Today on Inspirational Journeys: Stories that Matter, Jenifer Sienes and I talk about her story in the second volume of the Keeping Christmas collection, entitled An Irish Christmas Heart. She shares the story of her writing process and how suggestions from the editor were instrumental for enhancing her story. Grab your favorite Christmas beverage and enjoy the conversation
INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEYS PRESENTS!
An Irish Christmas Heart with Jennifer Sienes
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Friday, December 9, 2022
MORE ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR Jennifer Sienes…
Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her Apple Hill novels. California born and raised, she took a step of faith in 2018 with her real-life hero (and husband) and relocated to Tennessee. Her new Bedford County Series—Southern Fiction—infuses the charm and culture of the South to bring romance, intrigue, and humor to her readers.
An Irish Christmas Heart is Jennifer’s featured story in Keeping Christmas, Volume II See the details for the entire collection below.
In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy.
Escape to Greenaway (by Chautona Havig): She just wanted to escape another holly, jolly family holiday. Because snowbound in a castle B&B with one of Santa’s elves (or as good as) is so much better. With the help of the castle’s owner, Tonya plays matchmaker in a bid to get that Christmas-loving girl out of her hair.
The King’s Promise (by Tabitha Bouldin): In a world of airships and kings, a prince makes a promise that tears him away from his love. An ordinary baker’s daughter finds herself caught in the middle of a game where the winner earns the queen’s crown. They both want what they can’t have as they struggle toward a seemingly impossible happily ever after.
A Castle for Christmas (by Susan K. Beatty): Sadie Foster abhors wealth. Will Randolph, on the other hand, works for the uber-wealthy owner of an over-the-top castle on the California coast—Sadie’s father. When Christopher Foster leaves the castle to her, Sadie doesn’t want anything to do with it or his money. But what if Sadie and Will use the castle and her inheritance for the good of others—together?
An Irish Christmas Heart (by Jennifer Sienes): Will she choose love or an arranged marriage? In the midst of post-famine unrest, Eleanor Blake, daughter of an English nobleman, is thrown into a maelstrom of emotions. How will she escape the duty for which she was born and the confines of the ill-fated Menlo Castle of Galway, Ireland to find her true love?
Christmas at Curwood’s Castle (by Melissa Wardwell): A Christmas party at Curwood Castle should have been Angel Davis’ Cinderella moment. Especially when her dear friend Jimmy arrives. Instead, one obstacle after another threatens to break any chance at a happily-ever-after.
Christmas in the Cotswolds (by Stacy T. Simmons): She’s a paleontologist and ardent Jane Austen fan. He’s enmeshed in the exactitude of mathematics, can they find common ground? Do opposites attract, will the romantic castle, and dashing duke be the undoing of Victoria’s plans?
Grab a mug of something hot and delicious and curl up somewhere comfy. Your literary chariots await to take you on a journey from an early twentieth-century castle in the San Gabriel Mountains of California all the way across the pond to the beautiful Cotswolds of England. These six novellas, all set in castles real and fictional, celebrate the heart and joy of Christmas in this second volume of castle Christmas novellas.
County Galway, Ireland—November 1910
The fog lay heavy as a damp wool blanket over the River Corrib. If not for the coming of Christmas, Eleanor Blake would have not a thing to look forward to until spring would once again color the hills of her beloved Ireland in emerald green. It helped not at all that she lived what most might consider a grand fashion within the walls of Menlo Castle. The summer months were comfortable enough, but winter altogether different. Dank and moldy, it was, and the cold seeped into her small bones.
Bundled in layer upon layer of her brother Geoffrey’s castoffs, Eleanor made her way through the underground tunnel to escape notice. Aside from Mother, no one would care that she gallivanted about, for she had been labeled dimwitted by her own father, a man who abhorred anything less than perfect. And a daughter in her mid-twenties with no marital prospects was a sure disappointment. Most especially one unable to read a word. For all Eleanor knew, he’d take it as a sign from the Lord if she were to slip into the river and be washed through Galway Bay.
Eleanor had nearly reached the thick wooden door beneath the low arch when her name reverberated down the corridor. Her heart leapt, and she bit back a startled squeal before turning to face her younger sister Emma.
“You about scared me senseless, Em.” She eased the cumbersome basket she carried behind her. Maybe Father was right—she was dimwitted, at least of late. Years of slipping away twice weekly, this was the first she’d been caught. “What are you doing lurking about?”
“Hiding, to be sure, but not lurking.” Emma crossed her arms over her ample chest. “And you’re one to speak dressed like a street urchin. What are you about, dear sister? If Father catches you he’ll cover you in tar and feathers.” She leaned to the left as if to peer behind Eleanor. “And what is it you’ve got tucked away behind you?”
Eleanor grasped the basket handle so tightly her fingers began to cramp while her addled mind searched for a plausible excuse. To lie was a sin, but to put Emma in a position of secrecy…well, that wasn’t all the better. “You have no need to worry about me. You’d best mind your own affairs. I can only assume you’re hiding down here to escape Father’s heavy-handed plans for your matrimony. You’ll not escape them so easily.”
Emma stomped one foot as if she were five rather than twenty. It nearly broke Eleanor’s heart to see the tears well in her little sister’s eyes, and with the knowing that she put them there on purpose, guilt washed over her. “What am I to do, Eleanor?” She slumped against a damp wall, and Eleanor winced at the thought of what fate her dress might meet. For Emma to be so careless was a sure sign of her distraught emotions.
Eleanor slipped the basket into the shadows of the corner near the door and moved to comfort Emma. “I’m sorry, but no one, least of all Father, will listen to anything I have to say on the subject.” It might be better after all to be labeled a dim wit, or it would be Eleanor facing such a fate. The idea of marriage to a man nearly as old as Father was enough to make her retch. Poor Emma.
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