We have a very special guest today! As most of you know, I usually do author interviews and book promotions on Authors to Watch. Today, I invited Ellise Weaver, author of The Governess, to visit me here on my personal blog. I met Ellise on authonomy long before we both became published authors. She is a talented writer, fantastic mom, and thoughtful friend. It’s my pleasure to share this space with such an amazing woman. Ellise has not only agreed to an interview, but she has also provided the Prologue and first chapter of her book for us to read right here on this blog!
Tricia: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Ellise: Thank you, Tricia, for this opportunity. I’m hoping to see you on my own website and blog shortly. 🙂 A little about myself…well…I’m a wife and a mother of three children, one of which just graduated from high school a few weeks ago. One will be entering high school this coming year, and one I am homeschooling again next year (hopefully, the last, but we’ll see)…so I have a pretty heavy schedule with them. But I’m also an author now, which is how I met you, and I’m excited to have started this new adventure in my life.
I think you’d agree with me, as one author to another, that writing has become an exciting new part of our lives. My husband has worked two jobs for more than half our marriage just to keep things afloat, but still, we just get by, which is part of the reason I write. I was hoping to help in some small way.
About me? Well, all of the above keeps me going, pretty much, but I love my family and have been so blessed to be a mom and wife. When I was young, being married to a great guy and having my own little family was my ultimate goal—my big dream. I’ve been really happy at seeing this come to fruition.
I was born and raised in Idaho. I’ve been an Idaho girl all my life, I’m proud to say. I did a short stint in New York as a nanny, but couldn’t wait to get back home. Finished college and went on to work for a really great company in Boise. During that time, I met my husband. We moved to Eastern Idaho as soon as the honeymoon was over because he was already over here and all set up and working. Been here ever since…going on 21 years this summer.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Ellise: Tricia, I can answer that question in a very specific way. 🙂 I began writing on January 2, 2008. The reason I know this is because of the previous night. We had just gone through a harrowing year the year before in 2007. I call it ‘my cancer year’. January 2007, I found out that I had ‘Stage-3 Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma’, or breast cancer. After a year of surgeries, chemotherapy, hair loss, radiation therapy, and so much loss, I was ready for a completely new year than the previous one. Honestly, it sucked! But also, it brought me very close to God. You see, I had to prepare to meet my maker. I was there. I was in the zone. I was ready as best I could be. The doctors gave me every chance they could to sustain my life for however long, but I felt I needed to do something in case my chances grew slim again. I needed to contribute to our finances somehow. I felt a growing need to help and insure that I didn’t leave behind a family struggling with finances because of me. I don’t yet know if I’ve succeeded in this goal.
As I prayed and prayed and prayed the night of New Year’s Day, January 1, 2008 (the day that everyone thinks of new beginnings and goal setting…right?), for answers of how I could help my husband and family, through all my tears, I felt prompted to reflect upon all my skills available to me. What could I do? What could I possibly do? I had no strength, I had no stamina, I had no longevity. What could I possibly do? The only things I could think of were that I can sit really well—in fact—I had become an expert on the subject. I could also type really well. Put these two together (with my love of reading romance all my life) and voila! I had a new idea forming in my brain. I was so excited! Could I really write a story??? That was the big question. I couldn’t even guess, myself. When this idea came to me, there was such a thrill, such an overwhelming excitement that came over me that I knew I had been guided to something I could do. The Lord knows us better than we do ourselves, so I trusted in this knowledge. In fact, I could hardly get to sleep that night with want of getting up right then and there to go and begin writing! I had thoughts coursing through my mind of what I could write about. I was thoroughly surprised, but excited, nonetheless! I won’t have to leave it to your imagination that upon reaching morning, I got up with an enthusiasm I hadn’t had since before my cancer, ready to tackle my day with an exciting new goal. I would write to live. I would write to bring some measure of prosperity to my family (hopefully!). I would write to enjoy my day. And that is what I’ve been doing ever since.
Tricia: Thank you for sharing your experience, Ellise. Can you tell us about The Governess?
Ellise: The Governess is about a young English lady, Miss Carly Blakemore, during the Victorian age, who is orphaned and must find work to sustain herself. She has been tutored all her life to be a lady, though she was a vicar’s daughter. Because of this, she has the needed skills to become a governess, both a means of supporting herself, and a viable resource that was much needed in that era. The Governess tells the story of Carly working at her first position, a grand location at Huntington Manor. Carly encounters much trouble on all sides, but most importantly (and most deliciously) from her master. Here is a synopsis:
Lovely, inexperienced Miss Carly Blakemore, only nineteen years of age, is received at her first post as governess for two precocious children, ready to love them as her own. But her biggest challenge will be their father; masterful and strong in everything—especially his kiss.
Poor and without dowry—and even worse—now orphaned, Miss Carly Blakemore is thrown into the Victorian world without aid. Carly is forced to seek a position as governess in the house of Lord Huntington, the Earl of Dunfordshire—a man alone in his own right—and under suspicion for the tragic murder of his well-known and adulteress wife. His governess’s honesty and forthrightness quickly offend his noble person, finding himself reeling from her constant evaluation of his lack of parenting skills. However, in the midst of his resentments, he finds himself strangely drawn in by her very no-nonsense ways that drive him to madness. Carly stands her ground in head-to-head battles of will that take her to the brink of dismissal.
Carly and the earl continually fight the feelings growing between them. Both are oblivious to the clouds of deceit and intrigue that are growing around the manor house, some bent upon removing the beautiful, headstrong governess permanently. A final desperate chase leads to an interception of a ship upon the high seas headed for the Mediterranean and a secret society of white-slave traders, opening the way for this book’s sequel, Pirate Bride.
Tricia: On your website, you describe your book as Christian Romance with Sizzle? What does this mean?
Ellise: Thanks for letting me explain. I struggled with this one myself. When I joined Authonomy.com as an interested writer wanting to share my new story, I was truly a beginner writer. I thought I had come up with a brilliant story. Boy, was I wrong! I only discovered that maybe my idea was fresh and new (on an old theme), but that the craft of writing took a little more than what I thought I knew. But after saying this, do not be discouraged if anyone reading this is thinking about taking up the craft, and I have discouraged you. I do believe in this as a viable career! Even for us beginners!!! Okay…stay with me here, people.
In one of the blogs on Authonomy.com, I read about learning to ‘brand’ your style of writing so that others would identify with you on some level—in other words—people would either stay and have a looksee or move on, quick and painless. I thought this was a great idea. I thought I knew exactly what I was, as a writer, crafting my style of story. At first, I thought I could brand my style as Victorian Romance. That wasn’t self-explanatory enough for me. There is clearly a lot of that kind of story out there of all types. Right? Then I thought of Clean Victorian Romance. Still, what if I changed my mind and wanted to write contemporary romance? I didn’t want to have something that wouldn’t fit on my current website or that I’d have to make up a second website for. Do you see where I’m going here? Good. After taking this matter to the Lord (yes…I prayed about this! I’ve learned to pray about everything!), I saw that ‘clean romance’ was important to me, overall. But it just didn’t sound right as a web or blog title. When the thought of calling it Christian Romance came to my mind, I mulled it over and thought, “No. People won’t read that.” But I was wrong. Very wrong. I, myself, have always loved Christian romance and find that it is my preference. Also, I thought that anyone searching for like-minded topics would relate and land on my site as likely as anyone else’s. It branded me. It branded my style just perfect. But I needed a little more still. What would set mine apart? Hmm? I thought that even Christian Romance sometimes is a little sterile, even for me, however non-offensive it might be. I like that combination, but I thought I’d throw in a little ‘Sizzle’ for those of us who like a sweltering, red-hot, scorching kiss. That was just right for me! I’d found my brand! Woohoo! ‘Christian Romance with Sizzle’. Nice ring to it, I think. And it lets people know just what they’re getting right off the bat. Not much guessing involved. I like that a lot.
Christian Romance = Clean Romance + a little Sizzle. Nice.
Tricia: Why did you decide to write ‘clean’ romance?
Ellise: It’s a matter of preference. I love, love, love romance…the whole falling in love, happily ever after scenario…it’s those Calgon-Take-Me-Away moments that I love, just curling up with a good book, and taking me away from my day. I love that! Having said this, I also like to be able to read from cover to cover without being offended in any way. That can be a difficult thing to do in this day and age of erotica everywhere. For me, personally, I find it offensive. I’ve written a whole page about ‘Why I Write What I Do” on my website to address this issue from my standpoint. For those of us like-minded readers out there, it’s pretty self-explanatory. We get each other perfectly.
My words on the subject can be found here: http://elliseweaver.weebly.com/why-i-write-what-i-do.html. This article on my website explains it in detail.
I don’t necessarily want to read about someone else being groped. Don’t get me wrong, I like being groped. I just don’t think anyone wants to hear about it. Nuff said. 🙂
(P.S. — I must admit that I do have some groping in my book, but it’s done by the bad guy… teehee…).
Tricia: Have you received any criticism about your choice to write clean romance that still has a lot of sizzle? (From ‘typical’ romance readers who think it isn’t spicy enough or Christian readers who might think it’s too spicy?)
Ellise: This is a great question, Tricia, and I appreciate your honesty in asking it. All your questions are great, I might add. The answer is ‘Yes’. I have been criticized about not having sex scenes in my writing, but only by two other authors. That probably won’t be the last time, either, but it was a couple of years ago, now. Honestly, what made me chuckle was that they were convinced that my work would never sell if it didn’t have sex. I disagreed then, and I disagree now. In fact, sales have been terrific with amazing reviews from other like-minded readers. Right now, as I type the answers to these questions, I’m in the Top 100 Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Kindle Christian Romance at #34. Woohoo! I will never complain about that! Not once have my brand-spanking-new readers criticized me for too little sizzle or too much. My money was right on. God respects and blesses those who follow Him. I hope I always value that knowledge.
I, personally, have never needed sex scenes to occur in reading a romance for me to feel fulfilled that the characters have found true love. In fact, I have found the other to be truer. Showing honor and keeping oneself in check because they love so deeply affects me on a whole different level. It shouts, HE MUST REALLY LOVE HER to control himself like that, or visa versa. It’s a beautiful thing. Love is good, wholesome, protective, alive, and hungry; but in an awesome way for those of us who love the Lord’s way.
Tricia: I understand you’ve written or outlined other books in the series. Can you tell us about these books?
Ellise: Glad to, Tricia. The Governess has been split into three volumes because it grew so large…mostly because I don’t know how to shut up (…example shown here in my longggg explanations…I’ll try to do better in the sequels. I just like to gab!) I don’t know, there was just so much to say about Carly and Creighton’s love story. What can I say????
Anyway, Pirate Bride is the sequel to The Governess, and takes the story further with Carly’s sister, ***Spoiler Alert!*** Susannah, and Creighton’s best friend, Hayden, Lord Latham. The title tells a lot, plus, I might add, there’s a ghost in the story. *shiver*, *gasp* Here’s the synopsis to Pirate Bride:
(A Huntington Saga series novel)
by Ellise C. Weaver
Miss Susannah Blakemore is kidnapped and sold into white slavery as pay back to the Huntingtons. Will her pirate hero save her?
“The Huntingtons will pay. Oh, they will pay.” Plots and unholy alliances are put into action carrying out long-awaited retribution.
Only … one was not thought of. One was not even considered. How would anyone have guessed that a descendant of a pirate would take up his old family tradition in a mad quest to regain his bitterly lost love? The Marquis of Latham will not abide by this act of violence arranged for his precious love, but will surely save her, will he not? And will he make her the next pirate bride?
Next? There must be a first to have a ‘next’. But there was another … centuries ago … that still walks the halls of Stonecrest Castle.
You can read an excerpt from Pirate Bride here: http://elliseweaver.weebly.com/pirate-bride.html
The third novel in the series is called Elspeth Was Her Name. It’s about one of Creighton’s great-grandmothers who came from Scotland to find a better situation for herself and ended up at Huntington Manor. She falls in love with the master, and…well, you know…there’s that happily ever after thingy again. But only after some nasty trials.
Here’s a synopsis:
Elspeth Was Her Name
(A Huntington Saga series novel)
by Ellise C. Weaver
Elspeth leaves her small Scottish village desperate to find someplace safe…even if safety is only dirty streets. She cannot bear another day in a room with…him.
Elspeth’s life in the year 1585 is filled with hardships she has borne with steely resolve for 20 years. Till now. Strong-willed, but quiet, she serves diligently in a wealthy household…a rich landowner. But, she will not allow his hands to touch her one more time! In the dark of night, she leaves in a desperate attempt to stay her depraved master. She will never tolerate such deplorable actions again. She is determined!
Now on the run and without support of any kind, she continues to bear difficulties that would easily destroy others. And it nearly does her… Now near death’s door, Elspeth is found and brought to a beautiful manor house in the Sussex countryside—Huntington Manor. Will she ever awaken? And if she does, what will she find? More of the same charades she has only just escaped? Will she find a new master intolerable and immoral too?
But Elspeth does awaken. What she finds frightens her more than any detestable hands.
The fourth and last novel in the series is Creighton’s Daughter. It’s about little Elspeth all grown up; one of the original charges that Carly tutored in The Governess.
Here’s a quick tidbit:
(A Huntington Saga series novel)
by Ellise C. Weaver
Lady Elspeth Huntington’s coming out was spectacular! A most sought after debutante, she relishes in her success.
Yet, she is not quite satisfied.
Following the ill-guided counsel of her closest new friend, Elspeth plays the games of high society with ease. But emptiness is never far away. Still, ever so near could be her greatest happiness. In the nearby village of Dunford works a blacksmith of extraordinary skill and honesty. Myles Reeve watches as young Elspeth grows from a sweet innocent to much less, disappointingly. His interest in the damsel is quite distressing, at the least, and bothersome, at the most. Yet he cannot help thinking of her always.
Reeve’s best friend, Benson, a servant in the Huntington household, encourages his happenstance meetings with the girl. A masquerade ball is just the place to be unseen, is it not? Thoroughly attracted to each other, they continually struggle with their budding passion, their stations, and the inevitable heartbreak. Intrigue and loyalty bring these two together again and again, their love sealed with a kiss. But not just any kiss. Will their love have a chance to blossom?
Not all have missed this growing friendship. Not all willingly stand by and watch as their hard work and dreams fade. Will Elspeth and Reeve find love after all? Find out in the conclusion to the Huntington saga–Creighton’s Daughter.
You can read an excerpt from Creighton’s Daughter here:
Tricia: Which authors have inspired your writing?
Ellise: I’d have to say, first and foremost, Victoria Holt. I’d read any novel I could find that she wrote. I’ve read almost all of them. Although, I was sometimes disappointed in some of her endings, and that is why mine always have a happy ending. There is too much time invested in a Take-Me-Away-Calgon moment to be lastly disappointed in all that occurs. Super important to me! I read to take me away from life’s unhappy moments, not to sink me right in the middle of more. *ahem*…anyway… I’d have to say that next would be Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, Barbara Cartland, Marcia Lynn McClure, Stephanie Meyer, and probably some Clair M. Poulsen. Very amazing authors. I’m sure there are many, many more who’ve influenced me, but I cannot remember their names.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Ellise: Currently, I’m preparing The Governess—Book One: Volume Two to be released this month of June 2013. I can’t wait!!! I’m so excited! Can you tell?
Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Ellise: Believe in yourself. Most important! Believe. It’s a powerful thing. Trust your gut instincts. They almost always are right. There is so much I’ve had to redo when I put my trust in other’s instinct for my own work. Advice is great, but remember—follow your gut. Upon saying that, there are certainly things I have learned from others that I did not already know. Thus, much editing has taken place anyway. I hate that part. Only thing about that is that some of my best stuff came from edits. 🙂 So…you decide. 🙂
Tricia: Thank you, Ellise, for stopping by to talk to us about your book. For those readers interested in finding out more about Ellise and Christian Romance with Sizzle, please visit the following links:
To purchase a copy of The Governess:
- Amazon Kindle (There are a ton of Amazon links for different countries on Ellise’s website.)
- Amazon Paperback
- Lulu ebook
- Lulu Hardcover
- Kobo ebook
Excerpt from The Governess
Just one little kiss, my pet? Hmm? Something to remember our special friendship?”
“Friendship?” Miss Carly Blakemore stomped away from Lord Digby—her suitor until last week when he showed up at Bristow Lane with a wife. A wife!
“Come now, Carly, darling—”
This pretentious buffoon was doing his best to stay up with her. “Do not call me ‘darling’ ever again, you cad! You belong to someone else. Or have you forgotten your new bride as quickly as you have forgotten me?” Returning home was of utmost importance. But this scene was doomed to have happened. All the town had been waiting for it. Even she had worried and stressed about bumping into him again. Hearing his chuckle made her want to stomp on his foot—really hard.
“You are jealous. How sweet.”
How she had ever had feelings for this man, she would never know. But she had; deep feelings. And all this time she had been in love with a lie. Turning, controlling her emotions as best she could—for she would not cry in front of this fop; no, she would save her bitter tears for her pillow. For time is what she would need in order to overcome the harsh disappointments she now faced. How he had wooed her; how he had pranced her around the village buying her little mementos of their infatuation. Ball gowns even to attend his precious balls. Everyone, especially her, had believed—
Her father had warned her. Fool! If only I had listened.
Burning torment throbbed in her throat. Of all the vile things to do to a lady…to have led her on with such promises. Typical. Typical nobleman!
Closing her eyes to capture some semblance of control, Carly put her hand up to stop his lies and stated definitively, “Sir. You have made quite clear to me—and to this community—” Carly could envision the staring eyes peeking out the shop windows around the village green, the townsfolk recounting, “Poor, poor Miss Carly. She should have known her station.” It made her ill.
Starting again, Carly shuttered, opening her eyes and directing her speech to this hateful man. “I understand now what my purpose has been. A diversion. Please, give my condolences to your wife.” She watched with some measure of satisfaction as he turned red. “And to you, Lord Digby—I will not be trifled with; by you or by anyone else, for that matter. Ever!” Stomping away, she rid herself of his reprehensible presence.
Two years later…
Death. An ugly, sad word. It brings with it the power to cripple even the strongest of persons left behind by its sting.
Death was also the reason, at this very moment, why Carly was traveling to a governess posting.
And, oh, how Carly missed her parents!
Fear has a way of creeping into one’s life when lonely. Carly dismissed the disturbing emotions and chose instead to be hopeful; hopeful of a happy life in the months and years to come; and hopeful in the here and now for a breath of fresh air. She blew out an impatient breath. Fretfully picking at a stray thread on her coat sleeve, her nerves were on edge creating mischief with her idle mind.
As Carly’s coach came up over a misty rise, her breath caught in her throat as she beheld for the first time the splendor of what was to become her new home. Carly looked on in awe at the silent strength and beauty which Huntington Manor, this aged stone house, bestowed upon the unsuspecting observer with its peaks and windows abounding. The vast roofline peeked through the impressive ancient trees shimmering with dewy green growth.
“It’s beautiful,” Carly whispered in approval.
Sunrise had worked its magic burning morning mists away. Carly spied water glistening nearby. It appeared to be a lake. “So perfect.” She watched as a flock of birds landed on the sparkling surface, flapping wings sending out sprays of silver droplets. Rainbows danced like prisms against the splashes. Looking about her, gorgeous countryside rose and fell in swells. Tingles erupted down her arms as she thrilled at nature’s best.
The many chimneys of the grand estate worked busily puffing smoke from the cozy interior to the cool, crisp morning outside the ancient walls. At least I shall be warm. She was glad of her snug travel clothes and the blanket, rough and smelly as it was, imparted by the friendly coachman earlier this brisk spring morning. Shivering, she watched as they wound lazily toward the great manor house, the road winding through lush green woods and then back into open country. Undulating waves of new green grasses spread out before her upon which fleecy white sheep grazed. Age-old stone walls rose and fell alongside the rolling fields keeping the sheep from wandering into tender new crops just beginning to grow.
Sighing came naturally to Carly these days, but thankfully this sigh was one of contentment. If this was to be her home, then surely she was blessed. She prayed she would be happy here.
Earlier in the week, her sister, Susannah, had left for her own governess posting as Carly, herself, was doing now. Gladness filled her heart that they had each other still.
Moisture gathered in her eyes at the memory of their parting. Gripping now at the handkerchief Susannah had given her at their separation, she wiped at her tears, taking courage in her sister’s favorite scent of lavender that still clung to the lace. Brevity of separation did not make her long for her sister any less.
Blinking back tears for courage sake, she again prayed for Susannah’s safety and well being. Always she had done so for her beloved sister, but of late with more fervency, for they were now orphans having to make their own way in the world, relying upon the kindnesses of others to help them stay warm, clothed, and fed.
Reflecting upon her life, Carly realized how grateful she was that wise parents had gifted to her a means of supporting herself by teaching her the importance of hard work, a love of learning, as well as fostering in her a strong sense of independence. For, in all her nineteen years, Carly would never have supposed she would one day end up a governess to someone else’s children.
Her loving father and mother had learned early in their marriage what it meant to work hard for what one cherished in life, for they had come from completely different backgrounds. Her mother had come from a titled, landed family; her father, a poor one. Her maternal grandparents disapproved of the marriage entirely, considering him unworthy of their daughter, Lady Gabrielle Cavanaugh. Because her mother married for love and not for a gentleman’s riches, she was disinherited, leaving them with little else but their love for each other to sustain them through the difficult times ahead.
Young and inexperienced, her parents were compelled to make useful sorts of persons of themselves. Having only one occupation of which a third son of a now penniless estate could choose, Carly’s father decided to serve both God and his fellowman. Carly had always respected her father’s choice. She was proud of him and knew his parishioners loved his compassionate heart and strength of character. God takes care of His own, or so her father had always said. Carly agreed wholeheartedly.
Although Carly had been raised a vicar’s daughter, she had been taught to be a lady. Her mother was, afterall, well versed on the subject. She had been expected to set a proper example for all around her, especially for her little sister. However hard she had tried though, it had never worked around William, her closest neighbor. Somehow he had always come away from her yard with a large welt upon his cheek, or worse, a bleeding nose. Her mother often found her patience overcome by Carly’s tempestuous ways. Carly smiled at the memory.
Truly though, her mother’s tutelage had become a blessing, for who knew that both parents would die so young? The small inheritance her mother’s parents had provided for their only granddaughters had augmented their education and improved their limited introduction to local society, brief as it was. It had been the only contact their grandparents had granted under the circumstances. If only they had extended such a gracious hand now that they were orphans. But no such luck. Carly only sighed yet again.
Tucking a few strands of wayward hair back into the somewhat severe chignon beneath her bonnet, Carly then folded the tattered quilt, smoothing her dull brown, rather wrinkled traveling clothes. She contemplated the meager supply of clothing she had been able to assemble for her new position. Upon the deaths of their parents, so closely together, Carly and her sister had worn their mourning clothing for nearly two years. Deciding to start afresh in new positions as governesses, they were disappointed to find they had outgrown most of their lovely coming out gowns that had been made by their own hands.
Unsuccessful in finding husbands, the girls had listened as their mother explained to them, “Beauty does nothing to help one find a husband when there is no fortune to be had and a year of mourning ahead.” Continually, she would counsel them not to worry. “Your best assets are your unspoiled natures. Unfortunately, society cares little for such things.” Their remaining funds had dissolved during their mother’s illness, and so they were left alone to their ‘unspoiled natures’. Over the ensuing months of preparations for this inevitable moment, they mended and sewed what they could to provide themselves with serviceable, if not attractive, gowns. Everything else was left to an appreciative neighbor, a widow with six daughters of her own to clothe.
Death comes to every household, it seems. Even to this grand estate. Lord Huntington was a widower and had two young children in need of a governess. His young wife had died two years ago. No other information had been shared concerning her death. Carly’s brows knit together as she contemplated what life must be like at this manor house having experienced the loss of their beloved mistress. She shook her head in compassion for their sorrow distressed at having known grief so well herself.
As she drew nearer the estate, she could see extensive groomed gardens and dressed grounds. Everything was meticulous. Huntington Manor was more immense and grand than Carly had imagined. As the coach came to an abrupt halt, the coachman jumped down from his seat. Carly could hear the sound of his boots on the cobblestones crunching bits of sand beneath the soles of his feet. Her heart racing, the door flung open wide, and in rushed an inviting surge of fresh morning air. Carly breathed in the freshness with a deep sigh. Relief from cramped limbs showed upon her face as she stretched her arms and craned her neck back, gazing up at the grandeur rising above her.
The coachman nodded his head in understanding towards her. The manor house overwhelmed everyone, it seemed. As he helped her down, Carly thanked him and took a deep breath.
Here was her moment of truth.