Thursday, July 31, 2014

Christmas In July

Posted by: Ruth A Casie
The 1892 opera, Werther by Jules Massenet included a scene of children rehearsing a Christmas song in July. The character’s response—“When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”
I think we crave the goodwill and congenial feelings that are epitomized during the holiday season. So what is the history of Christmas in July? Is it more than a marketing sales tool?
  • 1933 – Camp Keystone, a girls summer camp in North Carolina, celebrated with a Christmas tree, presents, and a visit from Saint Nick. Perhaps the girls, who only see each other during the summer wanted to chance to celebrate the holiday with the unique summer camp family. 
  • 1940 – The concept was given national attention in the Hollywood movie, Christmas in July with Dick Powell and Ellen Drew. In this story takes place in July, Dick Powell’s character is led to believe he’s won $25,000 in an advertising slogan contest. He buys presents for family, friends, and proposes to his girlfriend played by Ellen Drew.
  • 1942 – The Calvary Baptist Church in Washington D.C., celebrated Christmas in July with carols and the sermon Christmas Presents in July. It garnered an outpouring of donations. The program was held each summer.
  • 1944 – The U.S. Post Office and U.S. Army and Navy promoted Christmas in July as an early mailing campaign for service men and women overseas during World War II.
  • Today – American advertisers have been using the Christmas in July theme since 1950. We can find re-runs of Christmas programs on television and many stores run sales. 
  • My offering for Christmas in July? Timeless Keepsakes: A Collection of Christmas Stories. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Win-A-Book Wednesday with...David Bridger!

Posted by: Jane Kindred

David Bridger

David Bridger settled with his family and their two monstrous dogs in England's West Country after twenty years of ocean-based mischief, during which he worked as a lifeguard, a sailor, an intelligence gatherer and an investigator in the Royal Navy. He writes science fiction and fantasy novels for teens and adults.

Four weeks ago she was a normal schoolgirl looking forward to the summer holidays. Now she's her family's only hope, with several lifetimes of experience in her memories and a dangerous battle ahead. 

When sixteen-year-old Jessica's reclusive great-grandfather bequeaths her a haunted castle in the Welsh borderlands, she's thrust into a world of hostile strangers, troublesome Romany tenants, and a strange gift that shows her disjointed visions of the past. And that's only the start of it. She thinks she's going mad, until old family stories and the superstitious fears of locals convince her that something sinister really is going on a Kidd Castle, and all the while the gift keeps drawing her deeper into the secrets of her ancestors.

The only person who seems to understand what's happening to her is the young Romany street artist, Joe. In the face of deadly danger to them and their loved ones, Jessica and Joe must master the gift before the past imposes its terrible will on the present.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

If there's one thing Warlock Marcus Shifter hates it's the Delwinn Council, the governing body of the magical community. Between the grudges many on the Council harbor because he walked away from magic, and his suspicions that someone is working to undermine a twenty-year peace with the non-magical Normals, they really don't get along.

Marcus has spent months hunting the traitor, infiltrating the Council and helping with "menial tasks" like repairing unstable rifts in the fabric of reality. But when he accidentally thwarts an assassination attempt at Delwinn HQ, the Council does the unthinkable: they appoint him the poster child for the peace movement.

Now Marcus has to not only figure out how to control his resurging powers but also navigate the potentially fatal waters of fame. Between the growing number of protestors, news-hungry paparazzi, and nightmarish beasts hounding his every move, he'll need more than a camera-ready smile to uncover the traitor and keep the peace.

Get it today!


Book three of Last of the Shardyn

Only scattered groups of exhausted heroes remain...

Veteran police chief Skip Walkins has really done it this time. After crossing realities to fight the onslaught of the Drynn, the spawn of the Underworld, he's one of only a few motley survivors of an epic massacre. By his blood, he's sworn to unite with Shardyn Knight Gavin Blackburn against the armies of Asmodeous the Pale, Lord of the Underworld and ruler of the Drynn. The two must seek resistance fighters wherever they can--even in Vambrace, among those who killed Gavin's father.

Reformed sociopath Donovan Smith has traveled to Vambrace for his own reasons--the new voice in his head claims that there he will learn how he came to be the Antimage, impervious to the deadliest magical attacks.

Donovan's secrets may hold the key to defeating the Drynn, but they may upset the delicate alliance of the Blood Sworn in the process. And if Skip and Gavin can't fight together as one, the Drynn will attain total victory over Earth and its magical twin, Theia.

Get it today!

Group Announcements

Congratulations to Shona Husk for placing in the Dark Paranormal category of the PRISM Awards with For the Love of a Goblin Warrior and to Jeffe Kennedy for placing in the Fantasy category with Rogue's Possession!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Failed Novels

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I’m feeling nostalgic today. According to my diary, I started writing my first novel almost exactly thirty years ago. I’ve written thirty-four novels—someday I aspire to catch up to my age! Not all of those books are published. In fact, *cough*, less than half are.  

Why so many unpublished? Most can be chalked up to learning my craft, some are from genres or subgenres that I had a yen to try but didn’t quite fit my style and so were abandoned. And then there are the ones where became distracted by a bright, shiny new idea and simply never got back to the old one.

So, for the amusement value, here are my failed novels, and some that are languishing in a trunk somewhere:

1/ Picture from the Past – On the advice of my older cousin I took some fantasy princesses and transplanted them into a romantic suspense tale. I was thirteen and a nerd. My idea of a big romance scene was “She thought he would kiss her. He did.” Enough said. Status: abandoned
2/ Ribbons Red – Can you tell I was big into alliteration? Another stab at YA romantic suspense, though I couldn’t resist putting in a few psychic bits in the rewrite. Amazingly, I actually got an offer on this one, but it was never published because I made the mistake of submitting a different, stronger novel, which they decided to take instead. I’m still quite proud of the opening hook: I was the only who cried at Vincent’s funeral. Ironic, isn’t it, that I should be the one to cry? I, who had hated Vincent since childhood and had often wished him dead. Status: abandoned
3/ Mirror, Mirror. YA fantasy with a dab of historical fiction (the main character had several reincarnated lives). My first fantasy novel and a sufferer of 'kitchen sink' syndrome. I must have rewritten this one eight times because I loved it so. Alas, it never sold. Status: abandoned and cannibalized for parts
9/ Beyond the Barrier. YA SF, dystopian. Status: abandoned, also cannibalized for parts, the best bits going into Jayne’s Keeper and my favorite character Lance transplanted into the sickly hero of Gate to Kandrith
10/ The Wallies Are Waiting. YA paranormal. Originally, the middle book between Dreamfire and Dreamline, featuring the middle sister, who didn't have any paranormal powers. What was I thinking? Status: abandoned and cannibalized for parts
12/ Missing Time: YA SF, featuring aliens and the Bermuda Triangle and so very, very cliched. Status: Abandoned, though the prologue did inspire a scene in Obsidian and Ice
13/ Shadowfall: SF, my first attempt at writing for adults. (I was 18 and so not ready.) Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful, featuring twins with reversible names who lived on opposite sides of a weird platform world. Status: abandoned
15/ Jayne’s Keeper: YA SF, or possibly New Adult, definitely dystopian. My only male first person point of view novel. Status: in the trunk, but not abandoned. Why didn't I pitch this one when Hunger Games was hot?
18/ Cross My Heart and Hope to Die. My attempt to follow up on Running on Instinct with a similar thriller. An editor liked this one, but it didn't pass Acquisitions. Status: in the trunk but not yet abandoned
19/ Finding Faerie. YA fantasy. Status: first draft, in the trunk for two decades now and may soon by abandoned
20/ Four-month Husband. Contemporary romance. My first stab at a romance novel, a la the Harlequin Presents novels my mother loved. Terrible. Status: abandoned. If I’m clever I will delete this so no one ever reads it.
21/ Besieged by Demons. SF, alternate history. My what-if-aliens-invaded-in-1210 AD novel. This one languished in a trunk for years, but will soon see the light of day due to my lovely editor Stacy Boyd. Just received the copyedits and it will be coming out this fall. Huzzah! Status: forthcoming
22/ Distant Beating of Wings. Paranormal romance featuring a telepathic heroine in a wheelchair, angels and a serial killer. My second stab at a romance is better, but still problematic as one third of the text is flashbacks to their childhood. Status: in the trunk
23/ Overdue: SF, aliens invade and a librarian saves the day. (Why, yes, I do have a library background, however did you guess?) Status: first draft, in the trunk
25/ Path of Power. Fantasy, featuring a Queen who is pretending to be simple-minded. Status: 2nd draft, in the trunk, but closer to the top. (I also have some notes on a sequel)
28/ Where Lost Things Go. Paranormal romance (or possibly urban fantasy), based on an idea I cannibilized from Mirror, Mirror. Status: finished ad quite pleased with it, will shop around once I have more breathing room as there is also a planned sequel
29/ Ear-Wax Prince. Middle-grade fantasy. I wrote this for my son when he was deep into reading Magic Tree House and Secrets of Droon. By now of course he is a hulking teenager, and I've decided I much prefer YA. Status: first draft, near the bottom of the trunk
33/ Unscripted. Science fiction romance novella. Status: first draft, not sure if this is a direction I want to pursue
34/ Feral. YA fantasy, werewolves this time, an expansion of my published short story of the same title in Tesseracts Fifteen. Status: first draft, awaiting its turn for revision

So that’s twelve books published, three forthcoming, eight abandoned, and eleven in the trunk—some of them much dustier than others. What’s hiding in your trunk? Do you ever put the best bits of abandoned novels into later ones?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Win-A-Book Wednesday with...Jane Kindred!

Posted by: Jane Kindred

Jane Kindred

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, the Demons of Elysium series, and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

You can find Jane on her Twitter account and Facebook page—both of which are aptly named “janekindred"—and on her website,

Master of the Game*

Master of the Game, available August 5 from Samhain Publishing, is the third and final book in the Demons of Elysium series: a blend of m/m BDSM erotic romance and epic fantasy with a paranormal contemporary twist. This is your chance to win an Advance Copy!

Here's what people are saying about Demons:
“A spicy erotic fantasy that submerges the reader into a tempestuous relationship that speaks of dark desires and wicked delights. Kindred tucks her burgeoning romance inside an intriguing story filled with deception and betrayal as luscious angels and demons all vie for the ultimate prize. Drenched in a decadent haze of pleasure, pain, discipline and punishment, Kindred’s voice captures readers, leaving them panting for more.” ★★★★  — RT Book Reviews
“This world is freaking awesome. ... Once I thought I had a hold on where Kindred was going with this story it would take another turn. I was glued to the pages of this book till the very end.” 4.25 stars — Crissy, Joyfully Jay
“What a seductive, devilishly delicious tale... Steamy, solid entertainment!” ★★★★Rainbow Book Reviews
“The second installment in Kindred's wickedly erotic, BDSM-based Demons of Elysium series immerses the reader in the dark and tempestuous relationship of Belphagor and his fire demon lover. Pain and pleasure vie for dominance as Kindred takes their relationship to a new level—a level that will make or break the fragile love that exists between them. Kindred does a splendid job of balancing the decadent romance with an engaging conflict filled with lust, lies and revelations.” ★★★★ — RT Book Reviews
*Note: If new to the series, winner of the giveaway has the option to receive Book 1 (Prince of Tricks) instead.

Love is the ultimate game changer…and this time it’s winner take all.


Now that his lover is back in his arms, Belphagor is taking his own sweet time to say the words Vasily longs to hear: “You’re my boy.” And savoring the sweet torture of driving the firespirit into a frenzy of unfulfilled need.

As the undisputed master of Heaven’s gaming tables, Belphagor never plays unless he’s certain of winning. But this time, political machinations send the game—and Vasily—tumbling to the brink of even his formidable control.

Vasily can’t deny enjoying their delightfully edgy play—until the airspirit auctions him off for a night to the one demon with a gift for taking things too far. Seductive Silk, tight-lipped about the end of his relationship with the sweet submissive Phaleg, may also be involved with a new faction threatening the pregnant queen of Heaven.

Belphagor couldn’t be less interested in the games angels play, but when angelic and demonic intrigues overlap, he’s drawn in against his will. And forced to break his one inviolable rule: Never gamble what you can’t afford to lose.

Warning: Contains more than a mouthful of m/m ménage, with intense D/s situations featuring intricate rope work, balaklavas, and a flurry of snow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Book three of Country Roads

Thirteen years ago, Webb Hawkins and Clay McCreedy were best friends, more like brothers than business partners. Determined to push Hawkins Hardwood into the future, their lives were intertwined on every level. Until Webb came home and realized little Molly McCreedy had had grown up.

Stay away from my baby sister. It was the one thing Clay had asked of Webb, but it was a promise Webb couldn't keep, and his actions did more than ruin their friendship--it changed everything. Now Clay is dead, Molly is pregnant after a night of memories and alcohol, and a guilt-ridden Webb needs to put things right.

As what begins as a marriage in name only slowly grows to include the love Webb and Molly have always kept carefully buried, a series of fires erupts across Black Cherry Canyon. And an infamous eco-terrorist sets his sights on Molly--the ultimate pawn in his vendetta against Hawkins Hardwood. To save one, Webb may have to let the other go...
Get it today!


FREE READ: The Adventures of Cassius Flynn and Molly McGuire by Eleri Stone is about a pair of semi-reformed airship smugglers and their attempt to take down a corrupt politician in a world where zombie-like Reapers roam the plains of the American west. Read it for free! 

Veronica Scott reveals the cover for her new science fiction romance, Mission to Mahjundar, which will be released August 18th. For more details and the book blurb, visit the cover reveal article at USA Today Happily Ever After!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Going Off Cable

Posted by: Annie Nicholas

We did it. A few months ago we shut off cable. The only person using it was my husband. It took some hand holding and lots of reassurance but he survived. He now knows how to use the internet and has not uploaded a virus to my laptop...yet.

I observe my kids and their generation with their Youtube obsession and wonder what the future will hold for entertainment. Some Youtube personalities seem as popular as movie stars. I, personally, am a Netflix junkie. (And other such services like HBOGO). I like to watch a show when I want to and have the whole series available if I want to binge.

This is my present list of shows. I haven't started the last two but I'm sure by the end of summer I will have started.

Shows on my watchlist:

The Leftovers
Tru Blood (catching up)
Hemlock Grove
Beauty and the Beast

We also do a retro movie night at my place, where hubby and I show the boys our old favorites. Sometimes it's torture for them, sometimes they surprise me. We just finished going through all of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns. They loved The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I never would have guessed my techno geek boys would love cowboys movies.

Movies on our watchlist:

Fright Night
The Frighteners
King Kong (the old version)

So it's my birthday this week and every year I celebrate with a giveaway! I'm giving away signed copies of both Ravenous and Scent of Salvation plus a $10 GC.

Annie Nicholas


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