Friday, December 21, 2012

Day Twelve: Carol Oates

A Christmas Angel

-alternate chapter from Ember-

Candra wiped her dusty hands on her jeans before she reached into the last storage box. She ignored the star that usually topped their tree and pulled out the ten-inch figure, smiling to herself. The twinkling white lights twisted around the evergreen’s branches caught the gold treads running through the ivory robe of the angel and glittered beautifully.

The angel was older than Candra was and had belonged to her mother. With everything going on, she’d been thinking of her mother and father while trimming the tree. Since her father died, she and Brie had spent Christmas alone. Now Brie had her family back, maybe she’d want them around her this year. The idea of making nice with Sebastian over crackers and cranberries didn’t appeal much. She fluffed the white feathers of the angel’s wings. Do Watchers even celebrate Christmas?

“I’ve never quite understood this particular tradition", Sebastian said from behind her. “Nothing says Christmas like cutting down forests.”

Candra turned to see him leaning casually against the doorframe of the sitting room with his arms crossed, observing her. “Seriously, make some noise or something.”
“What kind of stalker would that make me?” he asked innocently. His eyebrows rose as though her irritation shocked him.
“At least you’re admitting your stalkerish tendencies now,” she grumbled, waiting for his usual it’s-for-your-own-good speech.

Sebastian uncrossed his arms, pushed off the frame and approached her slowly. Candra still found his movements disconcerting. There was fluidness about how his limbs worked, something so very perfect—Angelic, she thought to herself. She tried to look away, she really did. Regardless, her gaze traveled the length of him from his heavy black boots to his knowing smirk. Candra flushed and returned her attention to the figure in her hands.

“I’m surprised. I would have thought the last thing you want is another angel around.”
Sebastian plucked a red and white striped candy cane from the tree and began to unpeel the plastic covering.
Candra pressed her lips together and scowled. She’d spent a full two hours carefully placing every light and ornament on the tree. She didn’t expect anyone to eat the decorations.

She climbed the stepladder with the figure in her hand. “I wouldn’t let Brie use this when I was kid. I thought it was cruel to stick a tree branch up an angel’s ass.”

Sebastian laughed. “And now you’re wishing it was me up there.”

She carefully positioned the angel. “Oh, I think we both know you already have a giant stick up your ass.”

“We have a comedian!” He snorted a laugh and bent over the pile of discarded boxes on the floor, the cane poking out of the corner of his mouth.

Candra jumped down and stood back to examine her handiwork.

Sebastian removed the cane. “Now, this is a tradition I’m in favor of.” He straightened up holding a plastic sprig of mistletoe.

“It’s fake,” Candra said quickly. He was right beside her and Candra hoped he couldn’t feel the heat burning off her cheeks.

“Oh come on,” he teased with an easy confidence that immediately got under her skin. “You can use your imagination, can’t you?” Sebastian smirked and held the green and red
plastic over the space between them, mischief glinting in his brown eyes.

Candra hated that her heart beat faster and her first thought was Sebastian’s lips would taste of sugar and mint. Her cheeks burned hotter but she refused to be the first to look away.

Their silent standoff lasted several long moments before he lowered the mistletoe and offered it to Candra. She snatched it from his hand and tossed it back into the box.

“You’re such a pig sometimes.”

“Merry Christmas, Candra.” Sebastian chuckled as he left the room.

Ember, Book One:
When Candra Ember wakes up in hospital after a dangerous encounter
with a red-haired woman, she is shocked to discover that seeing a
winged boy wasn’t her imagination. Candra is exposed to a world of
rivalry and sacrifice she never knew existed, and the aftermath of a war
to save humanity thousands of years ago. Soon she finds herself
relentlessly stalked by Sebastian, a beautiful and arrogant Watcher
Angel and romantically pursued by his darkly seductive rival, Draven.
Ultimately, dubious about her own goodness, Candra’s very existence
compromises a tentative peace in the city of Acheron.

Iridescent, Book Two:
Candra Ember used to dream of saving the world one person at a time.
She never expected to become an angelic weapon and the last hope in
the battle against ultimate darkness. Falling for a Nephilim wasn’t part
of Sebastian’s plan. Distraction is something he can’t afford when his
rival, Draven, wants what Sebastian has. Lies, manipulation, and
corruption are twisting the lives of the citizens in Acheron. The Arch is
missing from Heaven, and a demon is intent on claiming the city. At a
time they should be growing closer, grief and paranoia is driving
Candra and Sebastian apart. If the price of restoring the Watchers to
Heaven is a human soul, who deserves to be saved?

Twitter -- @CarolOates
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 10: Victoria Michaels

Boycotts and Barflies Christmas Cocktails

The boy’s drink of choice for the holiday season would be:
The Three Wise Men
  • 1/3 oz Jack Daniels
  • 1/3 oz Jim Beam
  • 1/3 oz Johnny Walker
  1. Put some ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the “three wise men” inside the shaker.
  3. Shake for about 10 seconds then serve.

The girl’s drink of choice for the holiday Season would be:
The Candy Cane Martini      
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp peppermint schnapps
  • 1 oz club soda
  • ice
  • crushed candy canes
  1. Put some ice in the cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the vodka, peppermint schnapps, and the club soda inside the container.
  3. Shake the shaker vigorously then pour its contents in a martini glass which has been dipped in the crushed candy canes.
  4. Serve.

Trust in Advertising Christmas Cocktail

A cocktail fitting Jade and her shrunken heart this time of year would have to be:
The Grinch                  
  • 2 oz Midori
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar syrup
  • 1 cherry
  1. Pour the Midori, lemon juice and the sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Pour the shaker’s contents in a martini glass.
  4. Place a cherry on the drink then serve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day Nine: Cherie Colyer

  I’d like to thank Omnific Publishing for hosting such a wonderful giveaway and for including a copy of my young adult paranormal romance/thriller Embrace. Join Isaac and Madison as he shares one of his holiday traditions.

   “My grandfather used to bring me here on Christmas Eve.” Isaac Addington held his arms out wide to indicate Ipswich Bay and Annisquam Lighthouse. “My parents would have killed us if they knew.”

“Isaac, it’s freezing.” Madison held onto the hood of her pink ski jacket to keep it from blowing off and tried unsuccessfully to share his enthusiasm about being out at midnight on the most blustery night of winter.

“Trust me. You’re going to want to see this.” Isaac paused, his hand near the heavy wooden door of the lighthouse.

A faint click whispered through the night as his powers unlocked the door. A moment later they ascended the winding staircase to the top. Knowing the break from the cold would only last a few minutes, Madison reveled in it. Too soon they were through the trap door and out onto the balcony. Isaac wrapped his arms around Madison. At the same time the breeze stilled and the air warmed to a bearable forty degrees.

“My grandfather taught me this,” he said.

As if his words turned on a radio, the song Frosty the Snowman rang out around them. The images of half a dozen elves dressed in colorful jackets, hats and mittens appeared out of nowhere. They rolled a low hanging cloud into three large balls as if it were a blanket of snow. Madison giggled as a mischievous elf whipped a snowball at the back of his friend’s head.

“He does that every year,” Isaac said.

“Your grandfather used to bring you here to watch Santa’s Little Helpers make a snowman?”

Isaac shrugged. “I was eight the first time. It was way off the cool charts back then.”

“Still is,” Madison confirmed. She glanced back at the parking lot. Isaac’s Jeep was still the only vehicle there. “Can anyone see this?”

“It’s only visible for about a hundred yards, but yeah. That’s why we had to come so late at night.”

“No wonder you and your grandfather had to sneak out. Using magic in the open like this,” she said with mocked horror.

Three elves climb onto each other’s shoulders and place a black top hat on the snowman’s head. It shimmered, then shook its body and said, “Happy Birthday!”

    Madison outright laughed this time. “That’s from the movie.”

    Isaac gave her a squeeze. “Frosty was my favorite holiday cartoon when I was little.”

   The scene in front of them faded, leaving the sky a midnight blue canvas flecked with bright white stars. The faint sound of jingle bells could be heard as a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer pranced across the moon. Madison could have watched the sky all night, protected from the cold in Isaac’s magic bubble, but he turned her to face him and slid an arm around her lower back. Silver Bells now serenaded them as they swayed to the music.

    “Merry Christmas, Madison.”

    “Merry Christmas,” she echoed against his lips, enjoying being in his arms in such a magical place.

Cherie Colyer, author of Embrace, has a couple of fun giveaways going on this month. Be sure to stop by her blog for more information.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!
Isaac and Madison

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Day Eight: Ivan Rusilko and Everly Drummond

Hi guys!

I bet that right about now you’ve had it up to your ears with Christmas: the shopping, the busy malls, and unexpected visits by family. Me too, or so I thought until I stumbled across a gift bag from last year that was hidden in the back of my closet. See, last year was the first Christmas Ivan and I had spent apart from our families. He was busy with work, and well, I didn’t want to spend Christmas without him, so we decided to have a nice quite Christmas in Miami, just the two of us. Sigh.

Sometimes we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas—or work—and forget about the simple things like... cookies! Who doesn’t love cookies, right? Especially when half the fun is baking them together, like this recipe for Grand Marnier cookies that I found tucked away in the gift bag:

2 cups minus 2 tbsp of cake flour
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
 Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp Grand Marnier orange liqueur ***plus 8 shots (We’ll get to this part later)
 1 1/4 lbs bittersweet chocolate, 60% cacao content, chopped into chunks

First, you want to start by getting a couple of shot glasses from the cupboard and pouring out two generous shots of Grand Marnier, one for you and one for your significant other. Trust me. This will help with the eye rolling from you-know-who when you play your favorite Tom Jones Christmas song. Agreed, Frank Sinatra is one of the greats, but there’s something very swoon worthy about Tom Jones singing Baby it’s Cold Outside. But enough about that, let’s get back to this recipe.

You want to sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and set aside. Then pour two more generous shots of Grand Marnier. Hey, this is a labour intensive job so you’ve got to keep yourself well hydrated. Next, using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugars, and orange zest for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and slowly stir in the vanilla and Grand Marnier. Reduce the speed to low, add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. By now you’ll be working up a sweat and need to pour two more shots of Grand Marnier, one for you and one for him. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them into dough. Cover the bowl with Saran wrap and place in the fridge. Pour out two more shots. Now, for this recipe you have to refrigerate the dough for 12 to 36 hours, but after drinking all that Grand Marnier, I’m sure you and your significant other can find something to do to kill time. ;) Once the cookie dough has set, you’ll want to preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat. Scoop golf ball sized chunks of dough onto the baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. When they’re done, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

 Another thing I found tucked away in the gift bag is this old picture of Ivan dressed in his Santa suit. It was taken in Pennsylvania a few years before we started dating, but it always brings a smile to my face. I keep teasing him that I’m going to use this pic for Christmas cards. I don’t think he finds it as funny as I do, but you have to admit, he does look kinda hot.

 I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t sweat the small stuff. Take a break from the hustle bustle, enjoy a glass of wine or two, spend time with family and friends, and bake cookies! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Years.


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Day Seven: Debra Anastasia

I stopped my car in the parking lot above the Poughkeepsie Station. I shouldn’t have been nervous, but I was. Blake Hartt and I had been in each other’s minds for years. I grabbed the twin hot cocoas from the cup holders and closed the door with a swing of my hip. I could see my breath. It was surely cold enough to snow. My mittens protected me from the heated cups.

Whenever I came to find Blake, I would start at the top of the station. There’s a balcony that peers over the platform, giving me a view of everything within a few miles. A train had just stopped and hurried commuters poured from its doors. The thick clouds gave sweet Blake a wide expense of shade, so he could be anywhere.

I sighed after scouring the platform. Maybe Blake’s inside? Maybe he’s visiting Beckett?

“If I was a snake I would’ve bit you.”

I loved his voice. It made me smile before I even turned to face him.

“Hello, handsome.” I handed him his cup and hugged him with my now free arm.

I held on for longer than was appropriate. He felt cold through my jacket. I wanted to stuff him in the car and throw the heaters on. I knew better.

I assessed him because it was a habit, maybe from having kids. I checked his coat --it was at least warm. His eyes were clear and jade, as usual. He looked healthy. I was relieved.

“I do know how to make it from one day to the next.”

“Am I that easy to read?” I questioned.

“The easiest.”


“Do you want to go inside? Are you cold?” he asked.

My heart crumbled a bit, that he would ask this of me when his home was the very nature that surrounded the station.

“No, it’s crisp and lovely outside.”

“You suck at lying.” He raised his eyebrows.

“So I’ve heard. Take me somewhere nice Blake.” I put my hand in his and squeezed.

Blake smiled at me and led me down the road to the edge of the Hudson River. We sat on a bench and looked at the choppy water.

The wind made me slide on my sunglasses despite the lack of sunlight to keep my eyes from tearing up.

“So, Merry Christmas,” he offered.

His rolled up cardboard piano poked out of his pocket. I watched as his fingers brushed against it.

“It is that.”

We spent a few minutes in silence before I had the courage to ask him, “I have to write a Christmas post for Omnific and I had to pick a character.”

“And I won? You’ve got the Devil? You’ve got Beckett?” He was teasing me.

“Of course I picked you. Plus I wanted to visit, it’s been a while.” I sipped my cocoa and he mimicked me.

He looked at his hands, “Really, Debra you should’ve asked one of the others. You know I have…” he swallowed, “nothing.”

I looked at his hands as well, knowing he hated talking about it, hated shedding light on his situation. Blake was homeless.

“Beckett would be happy to have you live with him.” I stopped talking when he shook his head and gave me a sharp look.

“I don’t take charity.” He touched the piano again.

I bit my tongue. I knew how it was for him, the choices he made. Blake loved being in the woods, loved walking under a canopy of leaves. He didn’t want to impose on his brothers or anyone else.

I switched the topic. “So tell me, are you a Holiday type of guy? Like what does Christmas mean to Blake Hartt?”

He took a relieved breath. “I’m a huge fan of Christmas lights. I love walking around at night, seeing the houses lit up. It’s like people finally let you know they like to have a good time, stand out from the rest. Did your husband put some up this year?”

I rolled my eyes, “Not yet, we are at odds. I want big and gaudy and he likes classy white lights. I’m still trying to get an inflatable Santa on the lawn.”

“Don’t force that poor guy into inflatables.  We’re lucky he puts up with you.”

I playful punch his arm. “All you dudes stick together. It’s not fair. So what else matters to you at this time of year?”

Maybe it was a mistake, coming here to talk about the most materialistic time of the year with a man who had everything he owned on his person.  

He blushed. I smiled. “What is it?”

He bit his bottom lip before answering, “Well, there’s this girl.” He corrected himself, “Woman. She rides the train everyday.”

I put my drink on the bench and clapped. “Tell me more.”

He put his hand behind his neck and looked so excited. “Well, she’s really nice to everyone and she likes her music.”

I knew there was more. “And?”

He looked into the distance his voice barely more than a whisper, “And she smiles at me every time she sees me. Even though she knows. I mean she has to know that I’m…”


Gratefulness swept though my body. A woman treating his delicate soul with kindness made me love her. Maybe she’d be able to see how exceptional Blake was, pending address not withstanding.

“And now that it’s Christmas? She’s been giving me twice as many smiles. So that’s what this time of the year means to me. Her smiles have doubled.” He finished his drink and motioned to mine.

I nodded that I was finished and Blake took our cups to the recycling can.

“Well, Debra, you need to get back to that family of yours. Plus, you’re freezing.” He held out a hand and we headed back to my car.

I’d deny it, but it would be a lie and he’d already pointed out that I suck at it.

He asked for my keys and opened my car door for me. After making sure I buckled up, Blake gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

He smelled like mint and cocoa.

“Hey, Blake. How’d you know her smiles doubled?”

He closed my car door, so I rolled down my window, in anticipation of his answer.

“Simple. I count them.” He blushed again.

“You count her smiles?” My mouth dropped open. It was so freaking romantic.

“We’re up to 86.” He shrugged and looked towards the train platform. ”She’s on the next one. I’ve got to get down there.”

“You do that, baby. And she’s a very lucky girl.”

He rolled his eyes before trotting off to meet the train.

As I pulled away I realized I’d talked to the perfect character. The best present any of us ever gets for the Holidays is kindness.

OKAY well now that I am done crying, I will say that the second best present any of us ever get is a picture of Satan Jack from Deb’s other series---dressed as Santa:


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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day Six: Kasi Alexander and Reggie Alexander

   The lights dimmed low in the dungeon as Sir Rune took to the stage in the center of the far wall. Raising his hands he called in strong clear voice, “May I have your attention please.” The crowd stilled and drew near.
   “I know it is the holiday season and all good girls and boys should be home in bed. But as we are seldom other than on the naughty list, we have joined this night for a special tradition. If you are new to our community I will let you in on our little secret.” Looking at all of the leather clad Masters and Mistresses and nearly naked submissives he smiled broadly.
   Motioning to sage and sunni he stepped to the edge of the stage, making room. His girls led a line of slaves onto the platform behind him, then at his signal they all knelt as one. Once more raising his voice he continued, “We here at the Keyhole club ring in the holiday season with a festive carol.”
    Jumping off the stage to allow an un-obscured view of the stage he turned to the kneeling ladies and said, “You may begin.”
    The sound of several beautiful voices then rose from the assembled slaves and sang, to the tune of Silver Bells:

    Dungeon playrooms, spanking benches,
    Scene in holiday style
    In the air
    There’s a feeling
    Of Christmas
    Floggers cracking
    Whips are snapping
    And at every play station you’ll find

    Sexy Doms, Sexy Doms
    It’s Christmas time in the dungeon
    Hear the screams
    Watch the scenes
    Soon it will be Christmas Day.

   Their voices trailed off and after a moment of stunned silence the room erupted in applause and cheers. Sir Rune re-took the stage and called in a cheery tone, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good scene.”

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