Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Holiday Anthology, Vol. I, Exquisite Quills, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR:  Various authors (Anthology)
BOOK TITLE:  A Holiday Anthology Volume I; Exquisite Quills
PUBLISHER:  Smashwords
DO YOU HAVE A GIVEAWAY?  The anthology is FREE to download

Tell me a little about your book.
A Holiday Anthology is a collection of heart-warming winter stories put together by a group of authors known as Exquisite Quills.  The stories are all PG-rated.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?  My story is called Fallen in Love. It’s about a married couple with children, who are going through a difficult patch, as all couples do, despite the fact that they love each other.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.  It’s based on a couple of friends I know who used to be really close but had a serious argument and didn’t speak for a long time.  They became reconciled on Christmas Eve.  It was one of the best Christmases ever :)

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?  Christmas is a great time of year for me because I can relax and read as much as I want.  And at Christmas, I always like my stories to have a happy ending!  I thought it would be great to write a heart-warming story for others to enjoy.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?  In some ways it’s easier – a lot of people have more time to read over the holiday.  In other ways, it’s more challenging, as there are a lot of Christmas themed books published all at the same time.  I feel confident about A Holiday Anthology, as there are some beautiful stories in the book, and as authors we have an international following.

How long before December did you submit to your publisher?  We published A Holiday Anthology on Smashwords.  We wanted to release it at the beginning of November, and so we each had to have our story submitted for editing and formatting at the beginning of October.  As a group of authors, between us we have a collection of editing and formatting skills, and we were able to publish the anthology ourselves to a professional standard.

What about your book makes it special?  Our group writes in a variety of genres, and we come from all over the world.  All our stories have a feel good element to them, and we are such an eclectic and talented bunch, there is bound to be a story there that hits the spot!

What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?  I’m looking forward to spending a relaxing Christmas away this year, with my family and my dog, by the sea on the south coast of England.  We will take the dog for long walks on the beach, which she loves -  and I will also spend a lot of time reading!

What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory? I’m so lucky to have many, many memories of happy Christmases with my children.  Some of my favourite memories were when they were in bed, and I was filling their stockings.  The anticipation just warmed my heart.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?  Chocolate coins!

What was your favorite Christmas present?  My mum was great at needlework.  We didn’t have much money growing up, but she used to sew and knit beautiful clothes for my dolls out of scraps of material.  One year she made a coat for my doll out of fur fabric.  I absolutely loved it!

Where can people learn more about you and your work? 
You can find me on my blog:
Please call in – I love to meet new people!

Thanks for having me Penny.  It’s been great talking to you, and I wish you and all your followers a happy and healthy holiday.  Merry Christmas!

An extract from the short story Fallen in Love, by Helena Fairfax
(Taken from A Holiday Anthology Volume 1; Exquisite Quills)

He pulled a piece of gingerbread out of his pocket, wrapped in a napkin.   “I got you this.”
Emily took the proffered gift, touched by the gesture.   He’d remembered how much she liked gingerbread.   She picked at the crumbs of it as they set off around the market and thought they could be any one of the other couples out Christmas shopping.   Except unlike the others, they weren’t actually together.  
She glanced sidelong at Mike.  There were faint shadows under his eyes, and a few lines that weren’t there when they separated six months ago.
“Why don’t you come home for Christmas?” She surprised herself with the question and added quickly, in case he got the wrong idea, “The children miss you.”
“You don’t mind?”
He sounded uncertain, and Emily felt a pang.   “Of course I don’t mind.   Unless” She hesitated, then forced out, “Unless you’ve met someone else?”
“No.”  He laughed, his breath a cloud of moisture in the cold air.   Then, after a pause, “You?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head.   “When would I have time?”
“No, when would you?”  His tone was dry, and he cast her a glance.   “Still busy?”
She frowned.   “I’ve got my accountancy exams in spring.   Plus I need to put in the hours at the office, and not forgetting time with the kids.” 
They trudged on in silence for a while, past the stalls selling decorations and candles, and the vendors with their pancakes and hot chocolate.   Emily felt Mike’s comment like an accusation, and couldn’t resist adding bitterly, “Anyway, what about you?  Still doing shifts?  Gigging with the band?  And football training?”
They reached a row of benches at the edge of the market square.   Mike slowed to a halt.   Emily lifted her head and saw the sadness in his brown gaze, and regretted her outburst.   She drew in a breath of cold, icy air.
“We always used to find time for one another,” Mike said.   “What happened?”
“That was when we were falling in love.” Emily heard the pain in her tone, and dropped her head, scuffing the ground with her boot.
“What about when you’ve fallen?”
She glanced up, not sure what he meant.
“What about when you’ve finished falling in love, and you’ve fallen?” he said.   “Fallen.   Like this.”
He fell backwards onto the bench with a mighty thump, body stiff, arms aloft.  
“Mike!” Emily started forward, half-laughing, half-stunned by his gesture.   His Santa hat and fur-lined hood had cushioned the blow beneath his head, and he lay rigid on the bench, staring up at the sky.
 “Emily, come and look at this,” he said slowly.   He raised his head, and indicated the next bench along.   “Lie down.”


  1. I love the holiday feel to your blog, Penny. It's not snowing here yet, but we've had a stormy start to the winter. Time to get the fire going and curl up with a good book :) Thanks for having me today!

  2. Great interview Helena. Your Fallen in Love is a charming story. It's nice to hear about the real element behind it too. We certainly ARE an eclectic and talented bunch at EQ. It's been a pleasure working with you and having my story alongside yours.

  3. Great interview. And great story.

  4. Thanks Victoria and Rose! It's been great getting to know you both through Exquisite Quills. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Hey, Penny and Helena. Lovely interview. Your cover for this book is one of my favorite. I'm heading over to download as soon as I finish here. You're lucky to have such a great group to work with, Helena. My mother made doll clothes for me, too. Thanks for the reminder. Back to editing when I finish here.

    1. Thanks, Marsha. Exquisite Quills is a great group, and so are my fellow authors at Muse. Getting to know you all has been one of hte best things to happen since my first novel was published. I hope you enjoy the stories in the anthology. They are perfect holiday reading. Thanks for coming by!

  6. Helena,
    Fallen in Love was a perfect story for the book. I have a copy of A Holiday Anthology and have enjoyed it thoroughly. I would highly recommended it for anyone looking for a holiday read!

    1. Thanks, Jerri! I'm thrilled you liked my story, and all the others in the anthology. Thanks very much for coming by to let me know!

  7. What a lovely interview, Helena. I love your story in the Anthology as well. Each story has a magic all its own, doesn't it? What a delightful way to spend Christmas walking a beach with your family and your dog. Have a delightful one. It'll be freezing here the next few days, so cuddling up with hot chocolate and some books is high on my list. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Gemma! I enjoyed your lovely train journey story in the anthology. Very Christmassy! Your plan to beat the cold sounds fabulous. Happy reading!

  8. I'd love to walk a dog on a beach in the south of England any time of the year. ;-) Thanks for the interview, Helena.

    1. Thanks, Jane! It would be great to meet up there any time. Thanks for coming by!

  9. Sounds like a wonderful collection of stories. And your excerpt is a fabulous draw, Helena!

    1. Thanks, Heather! I hope you can find time to read them over the holidays. Hope your book launches are going well!

  10. Thanks for mentioning the anthology, Helena - lovely story! It's a great collection for Christmas.

    1. Hi Ros, thanks for coming. I enjoyed your Highland taster very much!

  11. Really enjoyed the interview, Ladies. I downloaded the anthology.Thanks so much. What a lovely Christmas present. Looking forward to reading stories that sound like they may be like the Hallmark Cards movies on TV. I love them because they are always very sweet with happy endings. I usually am misty eyed by the ending.