The Jackal’s House by Anna Butler: Release Day Book Tour & Giveaway!

Oooh! I’m so excited to be able to share this with you at last! It’s here, the second installment in Anna Butler’s fantastic steampunk M/M romance series, Lancaster’s Luck. If you haven’t yet met Rafe Lancaster in the brilliant debut of The Gilded Scarab–rush out and get it right now. The Gilded Scarab was nominated in the 2015 Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Awards, and it was well-deserved. Rafe Lancaster is going to be your new book boyfriend, let me tell you. Not that you’d be able to tear Rafe away from Ned, the love of his life. But he would be an incredibly charming dinner companion and a devilishly useful man to have at your back in a pinch. Don’t take my word for it though–go, read Rafe’s story, then come back and snatch up the next book in the series. Anna tells me The Jackal’s House is even better than the first book, and don’t you know, I think she’s right!

How can you argue with all my favorite tropes? Egyptian archeologists on the hunt for buried tombs. Violent death. Shenanigans at the dig site. Rumors of the Jackal-Headed God, Anubis, walking the desert at night… and Rafe and Ned in the thick of it all! This is where I say, “Shut up and take my money!”

Better yet, she’s told me all about her plans for the NEXT book in the series, so yippee! More Ned and Rafe to come!

THE JACKAL’S HOUSE

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…

Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.

Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

Title: The Jackal’s House
Series: Lancaster’s Luck: Book II
Sequel to The Gilded Scarab
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 30 October 2017
Genre: Steampunk adventure m/m romance
Wordcount: 111,600
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Illustrator (Map): Margaret Warner

Goodreads

About The Series
The Gilded Scarab
The Jackal’s House
Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.

So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium.

Find out more about the Lancaster’s Luck books and the world of Rafe and Ned!

Excerpt
The only times I’d seen him this relaxed and at peace back home had been while he lay against me, skin against skin, sated after a night of lovemaking. Well, with luck I could provide that too, although perhaps not quite skin to skin. The sand got in everywhere if you tried that.

I slipped my hand into his. We were going to one of our favorite spots half a mile or so from the expedition house, a place where a small sandy depression in the land formed a perfect bowl before the ground started rising to the hills edging the Western Desert. Behind us, sparks from the village’s fires danced upward to meet the star-diamonds, and out on the canal a fisherman leaned out of his boat to grasp his nets, illuminated by a moon that had leached all the color out of the world, leaving it gray and black with shadow.

Far in the distance came a sharp yapping.

A jackal, likely, rather than one of the village dogs. The desert teemed with them, those ancient psychopomps to the souls of the dead. Another picked up the call, like an echo. Behind us, from the reedbeds of the canal, came the low ugh-ugh-ugh of a bittern and the higher-pitched whoop of the ibis.

Ned’s quiet breathing as he walked beside me became deeper, relaxed, and easy. His eyes gleamed in the starlight. “I love this.” His grip on my hand tightened. “Listen to that! Can you imagine what it must have been like all those thousands of years ago? So little in this old land has changed. Fishermen in Seti’s time went out on the canal in boats very like that one, and the bitterns kept up the same commentary as they watched. Seti heard the jackals too, and worshipped them.”

“I draw the line at worshipping dogs.”

“Heathen!”

The jackals started up again, farther off, the sound harder and angrier. Two dogs trading insults and gearing up for a little manly jostling perhaps, or a dog posturing for a reluctant female. After a little while, the barks and growls became a screaming yelp, and then there was silence.

“I wonder if she was interested anyway.” Ned sounded amused, showing he’d followed the same line of thought I had. He shook out the soft bedthrow and settled it over the sands.

“One of them lost, and I’d be surprised if it was the lady.” I settled onto the blanket.

Ned lay on his side, facing me, propping himself up on one elbow and using his free hand to trace a fingertip down the side of my face. “Do you really want to talk about the mating habits of jackals?”

“I would far rather talk about ours. Or to be precise, I don’t want to talk but to act.”

“Good.” Ned leaned over me. “Because I shall follow Benedick’s example and stop your mouth.”

With a kiss. With lots of kisses.

Well, blow me down hard. If there was one thing Shakespeare got right, it was the efficacy of a kiss to stop a man talking himself to death and to focus his mind on the essentials. For the next few minutes… years… centuries… Ned and I indulged in deep, increasingly urgent kisses, hands exploring bodies that were familiar now but which always needed to be mapped out anew. Just so I could be sure, you understand, that nothing had changed. Some kisses were so deep, I would swear Ned was using his tongue to check out my lungs from the inside—an exercise that left me breathless. His hands slid inside my shirt, hot and possessive. No doubt Ned too was reacquainting himself with familiar territory.

“Do love me tonight, Rafe. Dear Rafe.”

Well, I didn’t need to be asked twice.

Buy Links
Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback

Universal link to other digital stores

Individual Store Links:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Apple iBooks | B&N | Indigo |
Kobo

Giveaway
Enter the Rafflecoptor draw for
1st prize—$25 or equivalent Amazon gift card
2nd prize—a signed paperback of the first Lancaster’s Luck book, the Gilded Scarab.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Anna

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.

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Fool’s Gold: Audiobook Version and Freebie!

It’s here at last!

The audiobook version of Fool’s Gold, narrated by the charming and talented Gary Furlong, is now available on Audible.com! And as part of the celebration, from now until 9/10/17, you can grab a FREE digital copy of the award-winning Fool’s Gold to go with it!

Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.

Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.

This is a story very dear to my heart–a love letter to my horses and the sport of eventing. Not to mention, I loved tearing Jake and Rich’s lives apart, only to force them back together to see if they could work things out!

So be my guest, snag yourself a free copy and check out the smooth-as-silk audio treat that is Gary Furlong’s rendition of the story. You’ll be glad you did!

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for the new Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Oh guys!

I have been on pins and needles with excitement over the cover reveal and pre-order links for the newly expanded version of Unspeakable Words! in fact, the entire Sixth Sense series got a makeover to celebrate the relaunch of book one, so there will be more covers to share in the future and I can’t wait to share them with you! Release date for the new edition of Unspeakable Words is March 10, 2017.

Today I’m at MM Goodbook Reviews with an exclusive cover reveal and a giveaway–as well as an explanation for the decision to expand the original story. Do drop by to check out the awesome cover by L.C. Chase and leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

Also, voting is still open in the 2016 Paranormal  Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards! Fool’s Gold is up for Best MM Romance, but I’m telling you, the competition is fierce. Check out the nominees and vote for your favorites!

I’m not going to post the cover here–you have to check it out at MM Goodbook Reviews–but stay tuned for additional cover releases soon!

HL Holston and AJ Burke: New Stories in the Eternal Series!

Hey there! Some business before I introduce our guest for today! First, if you’re looking for my post in Divine Promotions 2016 Christmas Blog Hop, you should go here.

Second, I’m still celebrating the fact that Fool’s Gold was a Runner Up in the 2016 Rainbow Awards: it’s currently on sale for a limited time at Amazon and All Romance Ebooks for only 99 cents–but hurry, the sale won’t last much longer!

Third, today’s the last day of the Holiday House Swap Book Tour! There’s still time to check out an excerpt, pre-order the book, and enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway! I just found out that you can pre-order Holiday House Swap for the next 48 hours from Dreamspinner Press for 30% off!

Now, please welcome H.L. Holston, who has come to share not only links for new stories, but a lively party game you’re sure to want to try!

Take it away, H.L.!

eternally-bright-e-book-coverI grew up in a unique household; one side of the family is Jewish, the other Christian. So, this time of the year, I celebrate pretty much anything. This holiday season, my writing partner, A.J. Burke and I have two Christmas-themed stories out!

I’m a history teacher by trade and I’ve always wanted to write a story set during World War One. I finally got to do that with Eternally Timeless (Eternal #1). You can go to Smashwords and download it for free HERE.

The second story in the series, Eternally Bright, is a contemporary M/M romance set in Paris on Christmas Eve and is available only on Amazon. The two books are intertwined, but can be read as standalones.

And while I’m promoting my books, I also wanted to give everyone a new game to play on Christmas. In my family, we call it: The Pan Game. We played it every Christmas Eve before we opened our ‘regular’ presents.

 

pie-panFirst, here’s what you will need for the game.

 

Supplies:

 

  • Pie Pan
  • A set of dice
  • 20 or so cheesy “gifts” ( we got ours at the Dollar Store)
  • Wrapping paper (to wrap presents)
  • A timer

 

We’d gather in a circle, bring folding chairs if necessary! My mother would set the timer for 15-20 minutes. Then, you take the dice and put them in the pie pan. You toss the dice in the pan and if you get doubles, you take a gift from the pile in the middle. You get TWO chances to roll doubles, and then you pass the pan/dice to the person next to you.

Being quick is key, as you don’t want the timer to run out and you not have any presents.

You continue to do this with every person until all the gifts are gone. Once everyone has a gift and there is no more left in the pile, then the fun begins. You get to steal gifts!

Yep, the next time you roll a double, you get to steal a wrapped gift from a family member. This action has caused many a wrestling match in my household over the years. My father is famous for “hiding” gifts about his person, sometimes we had to frisk him to make sure he wasn’t hiding anything!

When the timer goes off, whatever gifts you have are yours to keep. (I don’t suggest allowing small children under the age of ten or so to play this game, as they sometimes get upset when Aunt Holly steals their presents. So we always made them the “fetch” person. Example: “Jessica, go grab that green gift from your grandfather and bring it to me!”)

We played this game every year and it bought our family much joy and laughter. If you try it, I hope it becomes a family tradition for yours too.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all.

Blurb:

Ever since Gabriel Foster started working at Demerchant Industries, he’d been fighting his attraction to his enigmatic boss, Sébastien Demerchant.

During a Christmas party at Sébastien’s mansion, Gabriel discovers his feelings might be returned. But everything is not as it appears, and Gabriel’s world will be turned upside down in the process.  

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2hKyqbq (Free for Kindle Unlimited)

Biography:

H.L. Holston is a teacher by day, and sometimes writer by night. She admits she is a horrible blogger, even worse in keeping up on Facebook, but tries anyway. However, all bets are off if Bruce Springsteen is on tour! You can find her at:

Web site: http://hlholston.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sue.holston

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sueholston

Divine Promotions Christmas 2016 Blog Hop & Giveaway!

blog-hop-graphicWelcome to Divine Promotions 2016 Christmas Blog Hop! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post and go back to the main page to hop to the next blog on the list! If you’d like to be entered in an individual giveaway here on this site, leave a comment below after reading this post. 🙂

The holidays were always a special time when I was growing up. My parents worked hard, and though we decorated the house and tree, we weren’t big on parties or celebrations. The one thing we always did was pile into the car after breakfast and drive to my grandmother’s house. There the entire family clan would gather from all over the country. My grandmother would have been cooking and baking for days, and the aroma of our favorite dishes greeted us on entering the house, as much a part of the decorations as the handmade ornaments on the tree or the small panoramas that came out of storage to sit on the mantle or the end tables.

Growing up in a house of utilitarian cooking, where food was considered mere fuel for the body, we loved going to Granny’s house for the holidays! Turkey roasted to perfection, pots of mashed potatoes and green beans (cooked in the true Southern style, until they were limp and had given up), candied yams, dressing and gravy made from the turkey, yeast rolls brushed with butter, tiny ham biscuits, and bite-sized sausage balls. And then the desserts! Pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate silk pies, applesauce cake, pound cake and coconut cake. Something for every preference and plenty to take home afterward. We ate until we could hold no more, opened presents, and watched a movie while the grownups talked. Bliss.

After my grandparents passed, much of the magic went out of the holidays. Work schedules and tight finances frequently prevented us from gathering as a clan, and truth be told, without the love and warmth of my Granny’s house, it was hard to make the trip. The old recipes were lost, as well as the experience as to how to make it just right.

holidayhouseswapfs_v2

 

I think that’s one of the reasons I adore holiday stories and movies. I love the unabashed sentimentality of the tales, the possibility of magic, and the promise of true love. I compiled a list of holiday reads past and present earlier this month–if you’re an author with a holiday story, feel free to leave a link in the comments! If you’re a reader, enjoy this great compilation of holiday stories! I also have a holiday story coming out on Dec 21–the Holiday House Swap Book Tour is ongoing until 12/16 and you can pre-order it now from your favorite outlets.

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/2gT2a1o

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2gOUf6c

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2gOVv9w

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gGsV9P

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2gfbQDo

Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/2gIcJ8B

All Romance: http://bit.ly/2fS1JDy

sausage-balls-resized-for-webIn the meantime, I’d like to share with you the recipe for my grandmother’s famous sausage balls–you can google this online and get all sorts of variations but the key is in choosing high quality ingredients, but also in the mixing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix 3 cups Bisquick baking powder

1 lb of pork sausage (flavor of your choice)

10-16 oz of shredded Cheddar Cheese (the sharper the better–I prefer Vermont White)

1 TB of water (as needed to mix ingredients)

Now other recipes will tell you to add milk or additional seasonings, but this is the way we’ve always done it. I recommend placing the sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean’s or Gunnoe’s in the original flavors, though the hot makes a nice change) in a large mixing bowl and adding the cheese and Bisquick a little at a time. MIXING THOROUGHLY IS CRUCIAL. Work that flour and cheese into the sausage, adding more until all the ingredients have been mixed. Most of the time, a small amount of water (1-2 TB) will be needed to work the flour into the meat.

The next key step is rolling the sausage/flour/cheese mix into tight little balls in the palm of your hand. This further mixes the ingredients–too big a ball and they won’t bake well. Too small and they will burn. It should be smaller than a golf ball, and fit nicely between your palms as you roll.

Bake for 20-25 minutes on a non-greased baking sheet or until golden brown on the outside and NOT PINK on the inside. These taste even better reheated the next day and are great for parties. They also freeze well, so we tend to make a big batch at Thanksgiving and have the rest at Christmas. Oh, what am I saying? They never last until Christmas–we have to make more!

Be sure to leave a comment here telling me what’s your favorite holiday food (and why), along with your email address if you’d like to enter to win a reader’s choice ebook from my backlist! And check out the Rafflecopter as well–some great prizes here!

3D fun face Charms Bracelet – 3 pieces (image attached)
18 K Gold Filled Crystal Pearls Heart Party Dress Jewelry Set (image attached)
$10 Amazon Gift Card from RAM PA Group
18k-gold-filled-crystal-pearls-heart-party-dress-jewelry-set
5 Days Promo Tour from Divine Promotions
Dreamspinner Press Vouchers
$5 gift voucher from Pride Publishing
Ebook of your choice from Author Grein Murray
Swag donated by Author Grein Murray (only available to those living in the USA)
Ebook of your choice from Author Sean Kerr (from his series Dead Camp)
Ebook – The Hard Boys: Alien Abduction (Case #1) from Ian Cadena

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are the blogs taking part: be sure to visit them all and enter the Rafflecopter along the way! And Happy Holidays to everyone!

Below you will find all the blogs taking part

🎅🏻 IrishdaisylovesRomance – https://dawn84blog.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/🎄-christmas-blog-hop-2016-🎄/
🎅🏻 Tempeste O’Riley – http://tempesteoriley.com/blog

Stellar Reviews for Holiday House Swap: Book Tour and Giveaway!

Oh, I have *so* much to do today!

fall-colors-mtFortunately, it’s cold and dreary here, which means I won’t succumb to the temptation of running out to the barn or taking the dogs for a hike. No, today I have work on the edits for the expanded version of Unspeakable Words (coming sometime after the first of the year!) and I’m entering the homestretch on the WIP–if I just shut out all distractions, I’m sure I can knock this one out of the park and be done with it.

holidayhouseswapfs_v2In the meantime, the Holiday House Swap Book Tour continues, and I have some lovely reviews to share with you! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway as well! Check out the posts at Love That’s Out of This World and The Geekery Book Review. You are can read the reviews, sample an excerpt, and pre-order the book on a variety of platforms.

I’m also been nominated for Author of the Year over at Gay Book Reviews! You know when people say, “It’s such an honor to be nominated” but they’re really hoping they will win? Well, I know there is no chance of that happening, and seriously, have you seen the Big Names on this list? It truly *is* an honor to have been nominated, and I appreciate every vote. If you’re so inclined, you can vote once daily until the polls close. You guys are the best!

valueRight now the kettle is whistling, and I’m making a mug of tea. I’m going to close the browser and focus on the WIP. Have a lovely day, everyone. I know I will!

Sometimes You Just Have A Perfect Day…

Today has been a really awesome day.

I don’t say that sort of thing often. Most of the time I offer qualifiers. I tend to be a little Eeyorish in my outlook at the best of times, but today everything just went…  right.

sleet-kenyaIt was rainy and cold, and I could have used that as an excuse not to get outside, but I didn’t. After a comfortable breakfast with the BF–homemade blueberry muffins–I got my lazy self off the couch and got the dogs out, as well as went horseback riding. It’s supposed to rain heavily the next few days, which is perfect writing weather but not so great for doing things outside, so I had to take advantage of the day while I could. Normally, I’d have used the miserable weather as an excuse to stay inside, so I’m pleased I made the effort to get out today.

holidayhouseswapfs_v2I was already excited about the Holiday House Swap Book Tour starting tomorrow (more about that below), but the day began with a friend telling me that some kind soul had nominated me for Author of the Year over at Gay Book Reviews. Seriously?? Have you seen the names on this list? I know people say this sort of thing all the time, but honestly, it is just an honor to be on the same page with these authors.

Then to top things off, I got the nicest email ever from a fan. You know how it is when someone gets what it is you’re trying to do? Who praises all the things you think are important in telling stories. Yeah, that kind of email. Icing on the Pretty Darn Good Day Cake.

Here is the schedule for the two week book tour. I’ll be updating the links as they go live. There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway too, so be sure to stay tuned!

12/5: Anna Butler (Love That’s Out of This World), Milly Loves Books, The Power of Three Readers, Book Junky Girls, Busy Bumble Bee Book Reviews, Danielle’s Domain, Kick Back and Review, Nicole’s Book Musings, Southern Yankee Book Reviews

12/6: Cat’s Guilty Pleasure, Grace R. Duncan, The Geekery Book Review, Indy Book Fairy Blog, The Bookworm Chronicles, Red’s Midnight Readers, Gigi luvs Books, Those Crazy Book Chicks

12/7: abibliophobia anonymous book reviews, Drops of Ink, Padme’s Library

12/8: A Thousand Lives, MM Book Escape, Niccis Book Blog, Some Like it Hotter

12/9: Kiki’s Kinky Pics, MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews, nerd girl official, Saucy Reviews on Kinky Corner

12/12: Author Groupies, Jim’s Blog, Reading is Our Satisfaction

12/13: Hot Box Reviews, Pervy Ladies Book Blog, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

12/14: 2 girls who love books, Dog-eared Daydreams, Wicked Good Reads

12/15: Aisling Mancy, Archaeolibrian: I Dig Good Books, Bayou Book Junkie

12/16: Give Me Books, Making it Happen, Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog

CyberMonday sales and a Holiday Giveaway!

holidayhouseswapfs_v2Good news–you can get most of my titles for some great discounts today only!

Dreamspinner’s Thanksgiving Weekend sale winds down at midnight EST–but until then, you can get all my Dreamspinner titles for 35% off, including pre-orders on the fun Christmas story, Holiday House Swap!

All Romance eBooks is having a 50% rebate on many of my titles today only, including the bestseller, Fool’s Gold!

And I’m holding a contest until Dec 1st, inviting readers to share with us what says “holidays” to them, in order to be entered for an e-book from my backlist.

Authors: I’m compiling a list of holiday stories to be posted in the first week of December so share your links with us here to get on the list! I’ll be checking it twice (heh-heh) and posting the master list this coming weekend. If you love holiday stories as much as I do, you’ll wan to check this out!

How can you resist a sale! I’m a firm believer in the rule that says every time you buy gifts for other people, you should get a little something for yourself. Never heard of that rule? Well, you should follow it anyway. Besides, books make great Christmas gifts!

blog-hop-graphicI’ve also got a fab book tour coming up in December for Holiday House Swap, and I’ll be participating in Divine Magazine’s Holiday Blog Hop too! Definitely the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ around here. Be sure to stay tuned and join in all the fun and great prizes, too!

Holiday House Swap Now Available for Pre-order on Sale!

holidayhouseswap_fbbanner_dspWhoo-hoo! I am SO excited to be able to announce this: my Christmas story, Holiday House Swap, is now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press! Best of all, if you order it now until 11/28, you can snag a copy on sale! In fact, Dreamspinner‘s entire store is on sale until Monday, 11/28! That includes every DSP title I’ve written!

Seriously, I am such a sucker for holiday romances, it’s not funny. I love everything about them: the circumstances that force strangers or old acquaintances into closer interaction, the way the holiday spirit changes attitudes and heals past wounds. I love stories about people who find themselves by falling in love. I adore stories in which snow is softly falling outside and there is a blazing fire in the hearth, and you just know those two characters will be holding hands before the night is over.

It’s funny because we aren’t much on celebrating the holidays around here. Most of my family works in some sort of service profession that frequently has us on call. Celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving often entails a delay while we wait to see if everyone can gather, and many times, the pressure of work has us deciding to forgo gift-giving or massive baking. Lord knows, it’s been years since I decorated. Perhaps that’s why I love holiday stories so much.

In my fantasy, there is time for families to come together and for past hurts to be resolved. The kitchen is magically stocked and every dish turned out just right. It always snows Christmas Eve, but not so much as to make travel dangerous (unless of course, you want to be snowed in with a loved one). And of course, you know exactly what to get every person on your list to make each and everyone of them smile.

This year, I’m determined to find my holiday spirit, the one that’s been sulking the past few years. I’m going to put up a few lights. I’m going to bake snickerdoodles, oatmeal butterscotch cookies, and sausage balls. I’m going to watch all my old favorite holiday movies: The Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, and Christmas in Connecticut. And I want to read ALL the best holiday stories–any genre, you name it (though I crave Regencies at this time of year, so sue me).

So to celebrate the upcoming release, I’m asking you guys to leave me a comment telling me the ONE THING that says ‘holidays’ to you. Name that movie or book you always have to watch or read. Your favorite Christmas song. Your fondest memory. Include your email address if you want to be entered into the running for a free story from my backlist. Authors: if you want to pimp your own holiday story–have at it! I want to hear about it!

Speaking of free stories, if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get an exclusive epilogue to Fool’s Gold (sometime after the first of the year–I’m behind getting my newsletter out!), as well as other free stories from time to time.

If you’re not ready to place an order for Holiday House Swap, but you want to remember it for later, you can add it to your TBR list on Goodreads!

holidayhouseswapfs_v2

Holiday House Swap: Reclusive writer Noah Kinley is facing a dilemma: how to confess to the world he’s really the author of a best-selling romance series. For years, his friend Julie has been the face of his brand, but she wants her life back now. Fast running out of ideas for his popular series, Noah wants to break out into other genres. Not that he’s writing much of anything at the moment anyway, thanks to paralyzing writer’s block. With his publisher breathing down his neck for the next installment, he hopes a change of scene will get his writer’s juices flowing again. Desperate enough to try anything, during the holidays Noah swaps his isolated cabin in the woods for a gentrified horse farm.

USAF Major Connor Harrison has chosen forced retirement over facing charges for an unauthorized mission to rescue a buddy from behind enemy lines. No one expects him home for the holidays, and he certainly didn’t anticipate finding a stranger in his house, much less Noah Kinley with his acid tongue and a wry sense of humor that pierces all of Connor’s defenses.

Both men need to figure out what the next chapter in their lives will be—and whether it will include each other.

 

Six Year Celebration and Giveaway!

six-candlesToday marks the six year anniversary of when I published my first major work, Unspeakable Words. I’d submitted the story on a whim to Dreamspinner Press, and had been completely gobsmacked when they accepted it. In fact, I almost snatched it back. I couldn’t believe anyone would want to publish one of my stories! Now, six years later, a quick check on Goodreads says I have 18 works out there–kind of amazing when I consider myself a slow writer. You know, that pesky FT job gets in the way at times. 🙂

By the way, everything is 30% off at Dreamspinner until the end of today!

I’d planned a big celebration, in part because I totally forgot to celebrate the fifth anniversary last year. I confess, I don’t feel much like celebrating right now. I’ve been stunned and horrified by the results of this past election. For about 48 hours, I seriously considered giving up writing because it seemed like a frivolous use of my time in the increasingly hostile and dangerous environment in this country. With the encouragement of friends, and the sound advice of mentors, I decided now, more than ever, we need our storytellers.

But I still didn’t feel much like celebrating.

Yet the sentiments I expressed in that post are meaningless if we don’t take pleasure, peace, and comfort where we can find them. Switching off the news to watch kittens play doesn’t mean you aren’t outraged at what’s happening in this country, or terrified for what it means for you and your loved ones. It means you can’t hold sustained fear in your heart, and you need a break from it. If you follow me on Twitter (where I am far more political than anywhere else) you’ll note that my tweets have been flip-flopping between frothing-mad post-election commentary and, well, puppies and kittens. I promise you, I’m not schizophrenic, nor is a saner someone wresting my Twitter account away from me at times.

It’s that now that the shock, grief, and terror have stopped boiling over and are simmering in the background, I have to take stock of my life and plan for what the future will bring. Where to put my time and money. How to not just manage my fear, but harness it. And part of that means celebrating the little things, and continuing to be grateful for what I have.

Such as a cat who tolerantly allows me to dress it in a lobster costume for Halloween.

shrimp-cat-2-halloween-2016Hence, a smaller-than-planned celebration, but a party just the same. For the next seven days, I’m holding a contest here on the website. If you want to play, then post something that makes you happy: a photo of your pets, a link to a funny meme, your favorite, upbeat song or vid on YouTube. Include your contact email, and I’ll put you in the running for your choice of one e-book from my backlist. Enjoy!