Jenna Black

NIGHT MAGIC Official Blog Tour

Heather Maclean

TOWARD A SECRET SKY Official Blog Tour

Elana K. Arnold


Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller


Arwen Elys Dayton


Marshall Ryan Maresca


Dan Poblocki


Greg Cox


Robyn Bennis

THE GUNS ABOVE Official Blog Tour

Christina June


Friday, December 30, 2011

January 2012 BNC - The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Please join us >>>HERE<<< with the reading of The Alchemyst 
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.

The records show that he died in 1418.

But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

Please join us with the reading of The Alchemyst The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott for January 2012. Every month Alice Priday & I will be choosing a book-of-the-month, cleverly titled BOOK NERD CHOICE (BNC). Anyone can participate. We will have a month to read and discuss it. At the end of the month, we will have a poll in which character from the book that artist James Vallesteros will draw. The drawing will be transformed into bookmarks and all actively participants will receive one.

Please stop over to The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel Portal >>>HERE<<<

***If you have already read The Alchemyst, you are welcome to JOIN 
our discussion and still get the Bookmark***

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Trinity Faegen Author Interview & Happy New Year Giveaway Hop

BookNerd Interview
Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop
Co-Hosted by Babs Book Bistro

Book Nerd Interview

Trinity Faegen wasn’t always a writer. She had an illustrious career as a Campus Cop in college, led many children astray as a camp counselor, and decorated Christmas trees for sweet, and notsosweet, little old ladies. She loves metal and rock, the Rocky mountains, chocolate cake and college football. She hates sappy stuff and hypocrites. Mostly, though, she loves to write.

Social Media

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Funny. Wise. Introverted.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was 16 and used babysitting money to buy a typewriter. It was quite a few years later before I sold my first book, long after the typewriter kicked off.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating The Mephisto Covenant?

Most religions don’t believe in Hell. They believe in some kind of life after death, but not the punishing eternity of Hell. I wanted this book to not feel exclusionary, and purposely focused the mythology on God as a supreme being and love as the unifying doctrine of all faiths. I didn’t realize until I got into research that the concept of Hell and the devil are primarily Christian beliefs. I blame my ignorance on popular culture. The concepts of Hell and Satan have become somewhat secular.

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

The Mephisto leader, Key, wouldn’t say anything. He’s the quiet one. The music man, Zee, would say, “More cowbell.” The animal lover, Ty, would say, “Give lots of money to the SPCA.” The player, Denys, would say, “Why yes, I AM happy to see you.” The one who lost his love, Phoenix, would say, “You’ve got ten seconds to leave me alone.” Jax, the sentimental one, would say, “Of all the gin joints in all the world, why couldn’t this one have the Lakers game on?” And Sasha would say, “Living with six sons of Hell? They’re guys before they’re sons of Hell, which means I’m either laughing, listening to them explain the finer points of fuel injection, or fighting over the remote control so I don’t have to watch Legend of Bigfoot, Part eleventy million. But, it’s never boring, and there’s always someone around who’ll pick up dead bugs. Eeuw.”

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about Sasha and Ajax?

Sasha loves any movie with Chevy Chase, even the stupid ones, because he reminds her so much of her dad. Ajax sometimes hangs out in the kitchen and chops vegetables for Hans, the cook, because it reminds him of growing up on Kyanos, helping his mom prepare meals for seven boys.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?

The last one. It was rewritten umpteen times, in so many different ways, but it made me cry every time. The heart and soul of the story is in the last chapter.

Any Camp stories you would like to share?

Haha! I loved camp so much as a kid, it only stood to reason I’d grow up and be a counselor. We had training for two weeks before any campers showed up, and the first night I had to spend alone in my assigned cabin, I was certain I heard someone walking through the brush outside the screened walls. This was in north central Texas, by the way. Of course all the slasher camp movies were front and center in my wild imagination. I finally got up the courage to book it to the next cabin and sleep there, with one of my counselor buddies. The next day, I found out that armadillos, when they’re rooting through leaves and dirt at night, sound exactly like footsteps. So I pretty much freaked out because an odd but endearing creature was looking for his dinner. Oh, so brave!

Who was your first boyfriend?

Bobby Parra in the eighth grade. He was good looking, quiet and sweet. A true gentleman.

Which author would you love to co-author a book with?

In adult fiction, Janet Evanovich. I think we have the same sense of humor, and it’d be a lot of fun. In YA, Jordan Dane. She writes dark, and I love dark. In reality, however, probably no one. I’m too much of a control freak.

If you were deserted on an island, what are the 3 books you would want to bring with you?

Jane Eyre, A Survival Guide, and the Bible.

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

I’ve been under deadline or working on an adult fiction project for so long, I haven’t had a chance to watch much TV. I love Big Bang Theory, but I’m way behind. Oh! I did see Puss In Boots when it came out – so cute!

Where can your readers stalk you

On Twitter:!/TrinityFaegen
On Facebook:
I also love to get emails! trinity at trinityfaegen dot com 

Thanks SO much for having me, Jean! 

Jean: You're so Welcome!

"A timeless love story with unique mythology that captivates the imagination. I loved it."—P.C. Cast, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the House of Night series

"Trinity Faegen bursts onto the young adult scene with an exciting debut novel told in a fresh voice, and with a unique spin on a timeless tale."—#1 New York Times best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon

"This is a fantastic book with everything a paranormal fan craves, from action to suspense to an absolutely sizzling romance. Fans of P.C. Cast and Lauren Kate will not regret buying this book. Faegen is an author to look out for!"—Romantic Times

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—she is an Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx always looming, Jax knows he has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

I didn’t know what to anticipate from this dark vs light story, but I was pleasingly astonished by the interlacing of religious mythology and old legends into a fresh setting. Trinity Faegan’s The Mephisto Covenant instantly intrigues the reader with the thought of someone being more evil than Lucifer. Throw in a daughter of Eve and it was enough to keep turning the pages.

Once I read the first paragraphs, I was instantly hooked. The introductions of characters and the world they live in was well-written and maintains the reader’s interest. I love how the demon was very atypical from other similar books out there. Faegan was very creative with the attraction between Ajax (or Jax as he is referred to in the story) and Sasha. He is a son of hell and she is a daughter of Eve. That is hard to grasp but Faegan did a remarkable job making their feelings valid and strong and puts a twist in the timeless tale of “falling in love with the wrong person”. The character development of Jax and Sasha is one of the best I have ever read. Even the characters that I did not care for were shaped well that I found myself hating them.

The fact that Sasha is an Anabo (the purest of soul and heart), Eryx (the one who is more devilish than Lucifer) will do anything to have her killed if he ever finds out. Jax knows that he and Sasha are made for each other, must conceal that fact from Eryx.

Be aware that it is a notch above many of the YA book that I’ve read. The violence was explicit and the sexual scenes were very steamy. I can only assume a sequel will be released since this is “Book 1”. All
in all, it was a gripping adventure from start to finish. The Mephisto Convenat is an action-packed story that blends folklore, religion, and romance into a refreshingly unique story.

You can purchase The Mephisto Covenant at these following retailers.
Click LINKS below:

And now, The Giveaway. 
Thank you Trinity for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one Signed Copy of The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen.

***If you're an Author and would like to do an Interview and Giveaway, you can e-mail me at****

Click >>>>HERE<<<< for my other Giveaways!
Click >>>HERE<<< for the rest of the Hop

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heaven Liegh Eldeen Author Interview & Best of 2011 Hop

BookNerd Interview
Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop

Best of 2011? Wow this list can take a while. But here are a few of many books I have enjoyed this year. You may choose ONE book that's pictured below.

Have an Amazing Happy New Year!

Heaven started her writing career two years ago after being challenged by a relative to write something different than the barrage of vampire novels on the market. With her ‘Oh, Yes I can!’ attitude, determination and support from her family, she completed her first novel The Demon Side, releasing this October. When she’s not kissing owies, climbing Mount Dishmore, or obsessing over her Facebook book page, you can find her at the computer revising or editing one of her five works in progress. Having lived in many states, she has now settled down in California with her husband, her son and a beta fish named Barry. 

Social Media

Tell us your latest news.

I am currently celebrating the success of my first novella The Demon Side and the close completion of the sequel, The Human Side.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Three words? That’s it? Okay I think I can manage that. I’d say dork, goofball, and twisted describe me the best.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grow up?

I wanted so much to be a United States Marine slash history teacher. Though those plans fell through I have a much better job as a homemaker slash writer. Heck, I’m happy I got the slash!

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

There are two very dear friends I consider to be my mentors though we don’t write the same genres. I don’t know what I would do without Benjamin Russell and Katie Harper. They’ve been a huge source of encouragement, support, and education. I love them dearly!

What inspired you to write this particular book? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?

My husband loves horror flicks. I absolutely hate watching scary movies. I do okay with the slasher films such as Friday the 13th and Halloween. However, movies that deal with the unseen, ghosts, and entities, flip me out! It doesn’t matter that I know the movies are completely fake and improbable. I can’t help but run through my house, turning on every light, screaming for my husband to hold my hand while I relieved my bladder during a commercial break. Of course, the jokester my husband is, never resisted cracking a few jokes about what a pansy I am or attempts to scare the poo out of me on our way back to our recliners.

Tired of pranks and jokes, I built a self-defense mechanism in my head. I keep my eyes on the television but send my brain into La-La Land. Well, they have scary monster in La-La Land too. Lucky for me, I set the rules for that amusement park.

Short story longer, one evening I snuggle into my hubby as he turns on what is not just a scary movie, but the worse kind of scary movie, one about demons and ghosts attacking you in your sleep. How do you defend against that? You can’t. So, my defense raises and off goes my brain to stand in line at the tea cups, when suddenly a Demon stands in line behind him.

Being the cordial little guy, my ball of pink spaghetti happens to be, he strikes up a conversation with the mortifying beast. Next thing I know, Rahovart, Etta, John, Alastor, The Arches and Rene are at the snack bar, stuffing their faces with nachos, sucking down lemonade and trading stories back and forth while I sit in the background typing every word that passes between them.

If you could introduce Rahovart to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I would have to have him sit down with Leonard Farraday from my novel The Vineyard House Chronicles. I think he could teach him a thing or two about proper manners toward women. And if Leonard won’t listen, well we have an idea of what Rahovart can do to him.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about The Demon Side?

The Demon Side (in a way) is my diary. It was never meant to be published. My husband stumbled upon it one day while cleaning up the computer and passed it on to some family members. After a few hard pushes from them I submitted to Decadent Publishing and the rest is history.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?

That’s a hard one to answer. If I narrow it down to one I would have to say my favorite chapter to write is the final chapter. It gives you a great feeling seeing everything come together. Not to mention how much fun I had a blast researching books on warfare for the huge battle scene.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

Every character in the The Demon Side has a large piece of me inside of them. Etta embodies my innocence, John symbolizes my strength, Rene is my ignorance and Rahovart is the demon inside of me.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

When people ask if my mother-in-law is my actual mother, I always say yes. Though we haven’t always seen eye to eye and had a rocky start to our relationship, over the years we’ve grown quite close. She’s just one of those people you wish you had for a mother until she’s mad at you and then you’re happy you have another one.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?

The Demon Side is book one of a three novel series. I am currently putting the finishing touches on the sequel The Human Side.

What are your current projects?

I have seven other novels I am currently working on. My next series has already entered the editing stages so you’ll find more exciting tales from me very soon.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?

Oh without question Away by Breaking Benjamins sums up The Demon Side practically word for word. However, I have a huge playlist that helped me write and inspired come of the scenes. Here’s the link to the The Demon Side YouTube playlist.

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?

I have done quite a lot of blog interviews so I have been asked about everything from my favorite color to what type of underwear is under my clothing. The only question I can think of, that I’ve never been asked is about my educational background.

Which author would you love to co-author a book with?

Hands down, Katie Harper. The woman is a riot and some of the things she says and writes will have you literally laughing your butt off, trying desperately to not tinkle in your pants.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading a very naughty book, Unshakable Faith by Lisa Worrall, that a friend sent to me for the holidays. It is by far not a genre I am a ‘fan’ of but the author is such an incredibly talented writer. I can’t help but to look past the fact that she writes M/M romances and just appreciate the gripping, sensual tales she spins.

What do you normally eat for breakfast?

Eat? That’s the one thing I really don’t do much of. I never feel hungry for the most part. I can go days without eating if my husband and son would let me. I only eat dinner because my husband forces me.

What are 4 things you never leave home without? 

I will never…ever…never leave without my sunglasses, IPod, Pepsi and keys. They are my essential survival items. You see me without one, it’s best not to talk to me because I’m probably in a bad mood about forgetting it. Heck, I always have those on me in the house.

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

OMG! I have fallen in love with Once Upon A Time, Grimm and The Walking Dead. I set alarms to remind me when they’re on.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

My husband does catering on the side so I have two refrigerators. In one you’ll find most drinks such as mochas, Rockstars, Pepsis and Capri Suns. In fridge number two, you’ll find everything from pudding cups, veggies, tortillas, eggs, and the steak I pulled out for dinner tonight.

Where can your readers stalk you?

I’m an internet junkie so you can find me just about everywhere! But, I’ll make it easy for you so you don’t have to worry about stepping on my garden as you hide in the bushes.

Available at:

Follow us on:

Every kid has problems. Every kid has even more problems when they move to a new home. But when a kid with problems moves to a new home that has a Demon living inside it—look out!

Etta’s world is about to spin out of control when she encounters her new roommate—and Rahovart, that ancient trickster, is in for a few surprises too. So don’t mind all the crashing and rumbling; that’s just the normal noise Angels and Demons make when they’re fighting an epic war in the attic.

One thing’s for sure: Etta and Rahovart will have to go through Hell to Heaven and back again before that old Victorian home in Quantico Town finally quiets down…

You can purchase The Demonside at these following retailers.
Click LINKS below:

And now, The Giveaway. 
Thank you Heaven for making this giveaway possible.

2 Winners will receive one e-book of The DemonSide by Heaven Liegh Eldeen.

***If you're an Author and would like to do an Interview and Giveaway, you can e-mail me at****

Click >>>>HERE<<<< for my other Giveaways!
Click >>>HERE<<< for the rest of the Hop

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Holiday Bash Giveaway

Thank you for being part of my 2011 Holiday Bash. I have collaborated with several authors to compile one huge giveaway to bring “Thanks” to all of you, my awesome community. I really hope you find this event to be fun and exciting and also want to give thanks to all authors that participated.

Reading has always been a huge part of my life. Remembering as a kid the excitement that would overcome me whenever I stepped into a library. I would spend most of my younger days sitting in the aisles and easily getting lost in the stories, the adventures, the characters and the settings that came bursting from within the pages and pulling me into them, allowing me to journey through my own imagination. At some point, I had also discovered comic books as an alternative form of literature and became an avid subscriber to Marvel, Archie, DC, Disney and many more. It became an amazing form of entertainment for my growing mind and an outlet for my creativity as a youth. Even now as I have matured into an adult, I still find appreciation in all styles of storytelling including but not limited to stories of horror, suspense, drama, mystery, action and romance.

In early summer of 2011, I decided to open up a blog just to share my thoughts and ideas about the books that I was reading. Unbeknownst to me, there was a huge community of book lovers on the Internet. It was great! Being able to discuss the books that I had been reading with others, I really didn’t know what to expect but it turned out for the best. Also getting the chance to meet new people along the way and develop some great friendships.

I was reading Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck and I instantly fell in love with the series. This is when I began to wonder how amazing it would be to get to know the author and receive
 answers to my questions about her work first-hand from the creator. In an effort to reach out to Mrs. Houck, a reply came back to me almost instantly! She was extremely humble and easy to talk to, making the conversation (not to mention my first effort in speaking directly with an acclaimed author) much more comfortable. From there on the wheels kept turning and I realized that this communication between myself and a well known author could be a great event to share with my growing number of followers. Furthermore, I would like to give thanks to Colleen Houck and Katie of Sterling Publishing for donating items for my giveaway and for giving me the opportunity to share it with everyone. It is because of them that my blog is the way it is now.

Other than reading, I enjoy cooking, exercising, and life in general. I really hope you guys will find my blog to be fun, exciting, and informative. I thank you for visiting my blog. I also would like to extend my thanks to all of the authors and publishers; because without their dedication to their work and all the generous offerings, JeanBookNerd blogsite may not have been able to attract such an awesome, interesting and dedicated group of individuals that share the same love for reading that I have.

My Christmas Tree

Blog Post are in order of my Interviews.

Colleen Houck

Hey everyone! Here is an article I wrote about interpreting at Christmas. This happened way before I became an author and I thought you might enjoy it. 

“A Case of the Fa La La’s” 
By Colleen Houck 

The Christmas Season is over. It’s time to clean up the stuff that has accumulated around the house. I almost wish a Grinch would come over and steal the after Christmas stuff so I could get my life back in order. This year I found myself participating in the annual Christmas Musical at church, and by participating, I mean interpreting. Ah, the good old carols of the past.

Mostly, I get my Deaf husband to sign all the music while I become the pointer ball and bounce my way through all the words in the hymn book. I shuffle through the sheet music for him to help him keep time while the hearing choirs sing. I’ve never been a good singer but I do appreciate a good choir now and then.

This year we got a special surprise. They brought in a young teenage boy group to do a special arrangement that merged several songs at the same time. Oh, yes, they combined the Twelve Days of Christmas and figgy pudding. Fa la la and Jolly Ole St. Nicholas, topping off their number with some Fum, Fum, Fum. My husband didn’t have the sheet music for this one so I had to get up and sign it.

They sang in a great chorus, the tenors and bases harmonized in smooth rhythms, every boy sang a different line but they always came back to Fum, Fum, Fum. As the song ended I sat down listening to the applause for the boys. They did a good job and they deserved the accolades of their peers.

I scanned the sheet music and waited for the next song. We stumbled through Gloria…in Excelsis Deo and Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum parts of which defy interpretation. In my head, there arose such a clatter. When my husband stood up and began the next song, I looked over at the Deaf audience, which was small because hey, it is a musical evening, and there sat a good friend of mine. He looked up at me with an expression of puzzlement on his face and said, “What’s a Fum?”

The Tiger's Saga Series.

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Colleen Houck & James Vallesteros 
for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one Signed copy of Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck 
along with one Ren Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros.
*1 Winner will receive one Signed copy of Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck 
along with one Ren Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros.
*1 Winners will receive one copy of Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck 
along with one Ren Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros.
*2 Winners will receive one Art Postcard & Bookmark by James Vallesteros.

Alagan Dhiren Rajaram

L.A. Weatherly


I write about angels, but probably not the kind symbolized on top of your Christmas tree. The angel on your tree is kind, giving, protective: a heavenly creature sent to help and guide humanity. In stark contrast, the angels in my YA series Angel are creatures from another dimension who feed from human energy, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

Sometimes I’ll see reviews of the series that express dismay at this idea, and I can understand these people’s feelings. Turning the popular concept of angels upside-down is different from doing the same thing with vampires, werewolves or any of the other well-known critters that populate YA dark romance. After all, not too many people really think that Dracula and the Wolfman are prowling their city’s streets … but millions do believe in angels. A story that portrays angels as evil and calculating jars tremendously with the common perception, which of course is partly what makes it a good story – but it’s also what makes it unpalatable for some people.

I’m often asked whether I believe in angels myself. I genuinely don’t know. What I do know is that although I’m not a religious person, I’ve often felt a strong ‘presence’ in my life – particularly when it comes to my writing. If there really are angels who are somehow guiding and helping us, then for me this is where they make their presence known the most. They’re the sudden creative flash that comes from nowhere; they’re the soft whisper that almost seems to be dictating the words as my fingers fly across the keys. As I write, I often find myself murmuring ‘Thanks, guys’ – and so I suppose at my deepest level I’d have to say that yes, I do believe.

I know that some readers feel uncomfortable with how my series portrays angels, and I completely respect their opinion. However, for what it’s worth, my own feeling is that if there really are angels, then they’re not only beings of immense love and wisdom, but they must also have a sense of humour. Try as I might, I can’t imagine such glorious creatures feeling threatened by my fictional portrayal of them. Mild amusement, perhaps, and maybe even satisfaction, because who knows – my books just might get people talking about angels a little bit more, and then looking at their own beliefs and finding something new there.

Personally, I’ve realised that angels aren’t limited to being winged, otherworldly beings. Ultimately, they are the divine in all of us – which means that we can all be angels to each other, even without realising it sometimes. The smallest act of kindness can send waves of positive effect through someone’s life.

So this holiday season, may we all be surrounded by angels, both human and celestial … but definitely not the kind that I write about!
Happy Holidays! 
- L. A. Weatherly

Angel Series

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Candlewick Press & James Vallesteros 
for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one ARC copy of Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly
along with one Willow Fields Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros and 
one Angel Burn Tote Bag.
*2 Winners will receive one Willow Fields Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Willow Fields

Gretchen McNeil

Once upon a time, the holidays meant lights and stockings, gifts and goodies, family and friends, love and joy, and a chubby little elf leaving delightfully wrapped prezzies under the tree.

Do you know what it means to me now? 


Funny thing. Being a book-a-year fall release author with HarperCollins means that sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I'm going to come home to a different kind of gift under my tree: a UPS package of copyedits.

It's kinda like Christmas, actually. You look at the package, a vague guess at what you'll find inside. You pick it up and shake it. It's floppy. Ah ha. PAPER! Then you get to unwrap it. Slowly, just a corner at first as you peek inside.

Suspense builds. Will they be easy copyedits? Difficult? Will there be queries I'll have to research? Pages I'll have to rewrite? Have I completely mucked up the timeline? Or will it be mostly typos and Oxford commas?

Finally, the packaging torn away, a shimmeringly white marked up manuscript sits on my table. Copyeditor's queries in MS Word bubbles, my editor's comments in green pencil (the green is soothing, so she tells me…) Soon, my red pen will mar every page of this print out, but for now it's still a mystery, as shiny and exciting as a brand new iPad or Xbox. Tomorrow I'll discover its secrets, good or bad, but today? Today I'll just sit here and stare at it…

Copyedits and Christmas, now forever intertwined in my brain.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
I did crack open the TEN copyedits just this past weekend, and blitzed through them in two days. I need to approach copyedits like that – kind of attack them all at once – in order to keep the continuity of the story fresh in my brain. I'm always terrified that once I reread the manuscript after weeks or months away from it, I'll hate it and want to rewrite the whole bloody thing.

But I didn't. The book felt surprisingly strong and it held my interest (even though I know what happens…) So once again, I'm excited about getting TEN out there in the world. And later in 2012, hopefully you'll be able to tell me if it's worth the wait!

Happy holidays, everyone. And have an awesomely amazing New Year!

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Gretchen McNeil & James Vallesteros 
for making this Giveaway possible.

*1 Winner will receive one copy of Possess by Gretchen McNeil
along with one Signed Possess Bookmark, a Tattoo & a Bridget Art 
Bookmark by James Vallesteros.
*2 Winners will receive one Bridget Art Bookmark & Bridget 
Postcard by James Vallesteros.

David Bell

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of the best Christmas present I ever received. I can think of a lot of them that I’ve enjoyed over the years. Once, I received a Star Trek phaser, one that fired a beam of light out of the end and emitted a screeching sound—one that I loved and that probably drove my parents out of their minds. I remember the year we received an Atari 2600, a gift that allowed me to spend countless hours on the floor of our living room playing Space Invaders, Missile Command, and Indy 500. I also remember countless shirts, pants, toy cars, and books. The gifts I’ve received over the years through the generosity of my family, friends and loved ones could fill a small retail store. I’m lucky.

But the best holiday gift of all is something I don’t own. It’s something I can’t own. It’s a place:


I grew up in Ohio and spent the majority of my Christmases there, which meant that Christmas was a time of cold weather, rain, snow, and fog. And I understand completely why a lot of people believe that Christmas is a time of year that should feel frosty. We are saturated with images of snowy holiday scenes—sleighs, thick sweaters, roaring fires. It’s hardwired into our collective DNA: Christmas is a cold, snowy time.

But I don’t feel that way anymore.

My in-laws are snowbirds. They live up north in the summer and move down to Florida in the winter, and for the last eight years or so, my wife and I have come to visit them over the holidays. The weather is usually in the seventies, the ocean breezes are warm, and there isn’t remotely a hint of snow or ice or fog. If the daytime high only reaches the sixties, it is considered a “cold” day. We usually go to the beach on Christmas Day.

And it feels like Christmas to me now. People put up Christmas lights—maybe even more than they do up north. The mall overflows with shoppers. Santa can be found in his full costume, despite the heat.

I still remember the day I guessed that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My dad told me, “What matters is the spirit of Christmas rather than Santa Claus himself.” And he was right—as he was about so many things. The holidays are what we make of them, and we are all free to create the holiday spirit wherever we are and wherever we find it. Warm weather or cold, it is ours to make. 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you David Bell for making this Giveaway possible.

1 Winner will receive one copy of Cemetery Girl by David Bell.
1 Winner will receive one Limited Edition Poster made by the famous Hatch Show Print in Nashville.

Elizabeth Miles

Holiday Bash post from Elizabeth Miles

I have much to be thankful for this holiday season, including the successful release of my debut novel, FURY; the loving support of friends, families, fellow writers, and bloggers; my health; and a happy home life. 

I'm also thrilled to have found some balance in 2011. I think being able to prioritize - and to build "free time" (i.e. sanity-preservation) into one's schedule - is an underrated skill. While the past few weeks have been a little crazy (they always are), I think I'm on the right trajectory when it comes to time management. 

I made some difficult decisions regarding how much time and energy I could devote to my theater pursuits, and I realized that I need to schedule my writing time - not depend on bursts of inspiration. Writing is a JOB now. That's not a bad thing; I don't feel ashamed to admit that some days, it doesn't come easily. (Of course, on other days, it does.) The flip side of those decisions is that I feel less rushed and hectic - which allows me to have more fun with my projects. 

As I take the time now to celebrate with my loved ones, I want to pass on the small reminders that are starting to become part of my daily life: Take deep breaths. Carve out eight hours for restful sleep. Don't feel bad about saying no to invitations. Be okay with daydreaming - realize that rumination is as much a part of the creative process as actually putting words on paper. When you over-commit or make a mistake (like double-booking), just admit it and move on. Ask for help. Make a conscious effort to enjoy each and every pursuit. 

The more you have on your plate, the more important these lessons are. I'm happy to have begun to implement them in 2011. I can only hope to move forward on that front in 2012. 

Happy Holidays, and thank you so much for reading!

And now, The Giveaway.
1 Winner will receive one copy of Fury by Elizabeth Miles.

Lorena Bathey

Home for the holidays! 

The holidays bring so many memories. People have traditions that they have been following since they've been kids. As I wrote this blog, I thought about the traditions that I grew up with that have followed me into my own family. 

When I was growing up the holiday season was a magical time. My mother loved celebrating Christmas, and we always had a beautiful tree. When I was very young it was a simpler tree with colored lights and a spattering of ornaments. But as I got older, the tree changed and the themes began. 

My mom was a fan of the flocked Christmas tree, and so we would pick out our favorite tree and then wait as they sprayed fake snow all over it. Bringing it home meant flocking covering you head to toe. First my mom did the random ornament hanging but eventually as she progressed through the House Beautiful magazines a certain trend emerged. When I was growing up my mom wanted to keep her tree more designed so she let me have my very own Christmas tree in my room. I loved that. I always had colored twinkly lights that would ease me off to sleep with their muted glowing. 

With the trees handled, we moved to cookies. We have some favorites that she made, one of those was not springerle. Seriously, the worst cookie ever. It's hard and tastes like licorice. But her meltaways, butter cookies covered in powdered sugar, and peanut butter balls were winners. 

My mom passed away in 2001which made the holidays difficult since they were so important to her. But what I take with me are the traditions she created. Besides the love of Christmas, tree and present design, and delicious cookies, I have followed one tradition that is quite a joy. 

Every year my mom would buy me my own ornament. Most of the time it had something to do with what I was involved in, who I was, or was just beautiful. But it was mine. It was something I could take with me one day when I moved out of my own house. I do the same with my family now. 

I began doing the same for both my children from the time they were old enough to understand. And now that I have a blended family with new daughters, son-in-laws, and grandchildren, I follow that tradition still. It is so much fun year-after-year to open the boxes and find "your" ornaments. 

Traditions are so significant to us human beings. And the ones around the holidays are probably the deepest. So treasure them and hold on tight to each and every one of them. No matter what your groaning teenagers say as you make them go cut the Christmas tree down, they love every minute of it and will do the same with their kids. It's your heirloom, the traditions you create. 

My books are about women that are finding their way through life. In both, Beatrice Munson and my new novel, House on Plunkett Street the women find their own paths, just like you must find your own traditions. I love writing about the human nature, especially women's, and the amazing strength and fortitude we have. 

You can find my books at or on Amazon and Barnes and Noble under Lorena Bathey.

Check below for Lorena's Published Novels.

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Lorena for making this Giveaway possible.

Orchard Festival Photographs
2 Winners will receive one e-book (any format) of 
Beatrice Munson by Lorena Bathey.
1 Winner will receive The Orchard Festival Photographs.

Nina Malkin

A Holiday Chronicle 
by Sinclair Youngblood Powers 

Born in the Year of Our Lord 1751, and raised in a humble New England home, my experience of this time of year was a far cry from what you are no doubt accustomed to. Upon my death, my spirit was trapped in a tree for two centuries, after which I returned to flesh for a scant few months before succumbing to yet another sort of limbo. But this year—following the maddening, mysterious events fully documented in SWEAR—I find myself free, alive and very much in love. Indeed, while Christmas will be celebrated in the town of Swoon, I’ll spend the days preceding it with my dear Dice in New York City. Below, a chronicle of my first contemporary holiday season... 

18 December; Sunday; noon Dice had discouraged me from trying “what they call a bagel” at the Dunkin Donuts on the highway outside Swoon so that my initial experience would be genuine. This one, freckled with poppy seeds, is stuffed with nearly an inch of creamed cheese, slivers of red onion and a slab of salty, smoky orange fish I’m told is called a lox. Impressive! 

19 December; Monday; 4 PM I cannot imagine what Victoria’s secret might be, since judging by her merchandise she’s a feverishly open individual. Drawn inside her shop, I peruse items for Dice’s stocking, only to find myself distracting to others shoppers. First one, then another, then by twos and threes and fours, women of every description crowd around to seek my counsel on their prospective purchases. Naturally I wish to be of service, and am flattered that they value my opinion, but so vociferous, so demanding, do they become I fear a riot might ensue—I make my exit summarily. 

20 December; Tuesday; 1PM As Dice’s first class at Columbia University doesn’t begin till 3 today, we arrange a skating excursion in Central Park. I am dubious. My lady has never been athletic. True, she did surprise me last summer with a newfound ability to swim. But as it turns out, her grace under water fails to extend to the ice. For the first 20 minutes she totters and falls, pulling me down with her, laughing all the way. Then I heft her up, arrange our arms to crisscross behind each other’s backs, and encourage her to close her eyes. “Don’t think,” I urge her. “Feel…” By session’s end she is…ah, well, suffice to say the Olympics will need to look elsewhere. But her cheeks are pink, her eyes are bright, her hair is wild and her buttocks must be terribly cold—she has never been more lovely. 

21 December; Wednesday; 7 PM The first night of Hanukkah. I ask Dice to encapsulate its meaning as we approach her grandmother’s house. “A typical Jewish holiday. We commemorate a narrow escape from the jaws of death by eating a lot of heavy food.” Indeed. Tonight’s menu features pancakes made of shredded potato—tasty, but with the digestive subtlety of a hockey puck. I’m a man of healthy appetite but after two of these latkes I believe I’m finished. Nana Lena believes otherwise. Heaping more on my plate, she says, “Tateleh, eat!” I take that as an order. 

22 December; Thursday; 4:15 PM Early for my meeting with Dice at Columbia, I wander over to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The sun is just setting as I enter, and as light courses through the Rose Window I’m struck by the beauty of its radiant colors and remarkable geometric design. It is as though it has me hypnotized—I cannot say how long I meditate upon it. By the time I break its spell, I’m late to meet my lady. 

23 December; Friday; 10:30 PM Dice and I are on our way from one party to another when the downtown subway train has stops between stations. The car is fairly full. People are laden with packages. Impatience over this delay is instantly tangible—this is New York, and everyone has someplace impossibly important to be. The door between cars opens, and four men enter. The shortest, roundest among them begins to sing a steady, bouncy bass note. The other three join in. A Christmas carol, yes, but they’re giving it an old soul spin. All at once, the impossibly important, impatient people on the train forget how important and impatient they are. And they are no longer they—they are we, and we are all smiling. When one of the quartet reminds us, “Hey, you all know this one, don’t you?” we begin to sing along. Some shyly at first, but ultimately with all our warmth, all our mirth, all our hearts. And all the tinsel and artifice and frenzied buying and selling falls away and we remember, if only for a moment, what this season is truly about. 

24 December, Christmas Eve, nearly midnight. After the centuries, the incarnations, the crimes committed and endured, I cannot rightly call myself a religious man. But every day I am on this earth, in this form, I try to be a better man. My story has been told—published, in fact—so I don’t dwell upon the past. Nor do I much concern myself with the future. It is only now—this now, right now, and I want for no other, for I am free, alive and in love. Best of all, my love is met, returned in equal measure. There is no greater gift I could wish for—and that is what I wish for you. 
And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Nina for making this Giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Swoon & Swear by Nina Malkin

Carolyn MacCullough

Top Ten Reasons Why I’m Not Writing (When I Should Be): 

10. I’m tired. This may not seem like much of a reason. But it is when you’re the parent of a 2 year old and a 9 month old. And by the way did I mention they both seem to be on caffeine? ALL. THE. TIME. 

9. The aforementioned 2 year old and 9 month old. I mentioned the caffeine thing, right? Okay, well, that translates into regular napping strikes by both of them. They don’t nap. For the past two days they’ve both refused to nap. It’s like they plan and plot together to steal any free time I might have even though the 9 month old doesn’t talk yet. Well, he talks, but no one knows what he’s saying. Except when he says Momomomomomomom and holds out his arms to me. I’m pretty sure that means he wants a cookie. 

8. I need to do laundry. Back when I was a single girl, I did laundry once, maybe twice a week. Luxury of luxuries, I lived in a city where people actually washed and folded it for you for a small sum and I could just pick up my clean sweet smelling bag of goodness on the way home from work. Now there’s my husband (man, does he generate laundry) and the aforementioned troublemakers of Reasons 9 and 10, so there’s a LOT of laundry. And no one to wash and fold it. Except for me. Right. Lots and lots and lots of laundry. 

7. I need to de-spider web my ceiling and moldings. Okay, yes, this is lame. But I do have a very industrious group of spiders living in this house (uninvited I might add) and they really spin and spin and spin away at their webs. They’re like so many Penelopes weaving and weaving and weaving away—or wait maybe I’m the Penelope since I’m constantly undoing their work like she undid hers every night. Okay, need to check on that literary analogy/reference some more. 

6. It’s the holidays. And that means baking. I want to bake and bake and bake some more cookies. I’m currently obsessed with the nutmeg maple butter cookies found on Smitten Kitchen’s blog. I made a batch recently and have to say that I’m not a big raw cookie dough fan kind of girl, but wow—one taste of the cookie dough and these cookies almost didn’t make it into becoming real baked cookies. And now visions of nutmeg maple butter snowmen and reindeer and snowflake shaped cookies are all luring me into the kitchen and compelling me to start defrosting the butter. Anyway, here’s the recipe link so you, too, can start wallowing in the nutmeg maple buttery goodness. 

5. It’s the holidays. And that means gift shopping. Anyone have any idea what I can get for my mother? Really, I’m down to the wire here. Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

4. It’s the holidays. I need to wrap presents. This year I dreamt of making my own wrapping paper and gift tags and stamping said homemade wrapping paper with really cool vintage looking Santa stamps (no idea where to even find those) and tying off the packages with twine and inserting freshly cut holly leaves and berries into said twine. Um . . . well, I just bought some discount wrapping paper at Michael’s craft store and yeah, well, it has some red and green Santas on it. They look pretty jolly. They’ll do. 

3. It’s the holidays and I’m somehow hosting a WHOLE BUNCH of people on Christmas because oh, back in May, I looked up from a cup of tea and said dreamily, “wouldn’t it be fun to have people here for Christmas dinner?” to which my husband made enthusiastic sounding noises over his own cup of tea and well, here we are hosting said WHOLE BUNCH of people and I need to find a standing rib roast and then figure out how to do something Martha Stewart/Ina Garten worthy with it. (Wow—was that really only one sentence?) 

2. I just want to read. Seriously, there are some many good books out there always and now that my reading time has been cut in half and then cut in half again and then diced up into tenths (I blame the above mentioned troublemakers from reasons 9 and 10 for this loss of reading time), well I treasure any spare five minutes I have to dive into awesome books. Like Blackbringer by Laini Taylor—I’m currently reading (and loving) that one. 

1. I’m scared. Okay, all those above reasons, well they don’t count for much. For me, not writing boils down to the simple fact that it’s scary. Really scary. The whole blank page thing is pretty alarming, but even when the page isn’t blank, I often get paralyzed really by the idea that wait, this isn’t how the story is supposed to turn out. The story that shimmered like candy floss and silk and pearls in my mind just seems to turn to dust and dross when forced into real words on a real page. It’s . . . disheartening at times. And so, it’s a lot, lot, lot easier to do all the other above mentioned things than actually plant myself in a chair in front of my computer, switch off the Internet, and just . . . write. But, somehow, I do. Sometimes. A little. After I’ve put the troublemakers to bed and dusted the ceilings and put the cookies in the oven and the laundry in the dryer. Just a little. A few words by a few words until I have a page and then another page and then another. And then I try to remember that wonderful saying: “the worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.” No one really knows who actually said that, but whoever he/she was it was brilliantly said. Words to live by. Really.

Once a Witch & Always a Witch

Check below for Carolyn's Published Novels. 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Carolyn for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive a Signed (This can be Personalized) 
Copy of Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough.
*1 Winner will receive one Audio Version of Once a Witch.
*1 Winner will receive one Audio Copy of Always a Witch.

Elana Johnson

Taking the Time to Build Meaningful Traditions 

Okay, so I guess I get to take over the blog today. That takes a lot of guts to let me do that. Hope I don’t disappoint. 

I’m going to talk a little bit about holiday traditions. See, when I was a kid, my family did the same things every year. My grandma came to our house, we ate the same meal, with the same pie recipe year after year. After year. 

I think there are good things to using/doing the same things over and over. 

But as an adult, I find myself experimenting more with recipes. I don’t always make the same holiday meal. I don’t follow the family traditions. (Some say it’s because of my rebellious attitude. I have no comment.) 

And I’ve discovered that it’s okay to start new traditions. Ones that my kids will take with them into adulthood, and either continue to replicate or be brave enough to branch out and begin their own. 

One particular example comes with the advent calendar. Don’t even try to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Those little calendars where you get to open a little window each day and eat the little chocolate inside. 

As a child, my mom bought me one every year. I loved them. LOVED THEM. 

This year, I saw them at the store and I bought them for my kids, thinking they’d have this same magical experience with the advent calendar that I experienced in my childhood. 

I know you know where this is going. 

They didn’t have the same experience. My daughter ate all the chocolate in one day, not bothering to wait and anticipate what might be behind the next door. My son lost his. 

I wish I were kidding. 

What does this teach me? 

My childhood memories are not my children’s. Traditions take time to build (one advent calendar in 13 years is not the way to go). And that I probably need to work harder to establish traditions with my children if I want them to stick. 

I think a lot of this life lesson I learned this year can be applied to writing and reading. A book that you read and love, your best friend might not. (Your experiences are not theirs.) The things we write as authors we spend a lot of time with. We grow to love our stories more than anyone else. They’re engrained in us. But that doesn’t mean they will be treasured by others. 

And that’s okay. We have to keep working at our craft. We have to keep trusting readers to want to read good stories. 

We have to spend the time it takes to build something memorable. And when we do, the rewards will be worthwhile. 

So currently, I’m spending a lot of time with a new series. I can’t say a whole lot about it right now, other than it’s different from the POSSESSION series I just finished. (I just finished book 3 in that dystopian world—and book 2, SURRENDER, will be out June 5, 2012!) 

This new series is not dystopian, and it’s a genre I’ve always been fascinated by. It’s requiring a lot more research and a lot more time to get the words on the page in the order I want them. But that in and of itself is not a bad thing. 

After all, the best things in life take time. 

Possession Series

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Elana for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Possession by Elana Johnson, 
Signed Bookmark & 2 Tagged Stickers.
*2 Winners will receive one Signed Bookmark by Elana Johnson & Tagged Stickers.

Kimberly Derting

Early on in our marriage, my husband and I realized that we both hated the Christmas shuffle. You know, traipsing the kids from one house to the next, coordinating the opening of presents, planning who-brings-what for the shared meal, just so that everyone can “be together” on Christmas. And you know what? The kids didn’t really like the craziness either. All they wanted to do was to wake up in their own house, eat candy, and play with their new toys. 

So one year we declared it the “Derting Stay-At-Home Christmas”. We told everyone in our extended family that we weren’t going anywhere on Christmas Day. Don’t get me wrong, our family was more than welcome to come over, as long as they were clear on the rules: there would be no cleaning up, no getting dressed in real clothes, and most importantly, no cooking of any kind. It would be a do-nothing, relaxing holiday. 

We planned on getting up whenever we felt like it (which meant somewhere around 5AM, because kids don’t sleep in on Christmas), open presents at our leisure (translation: at a breakneck pace because, you know, those kids again!), and spend the entire day in our pajamas. 

And we did it. We had candy for breakfast, curled up on the couch to watch movies, and ate leftovers from the ham dinner we’d had the night before. The best part, the kids absolutely loved it! And you know what, we did too! It was like...well, a Christmas miracle! 

It was so awesome, in fact, that we did it again the next year. And the next. And the one after that, until it became something of a new family tradition. Our Do-Nothing Christmas. It’s the one day of the year where there’s nothing expected of us, where there are no time-limits or obligations, no work, no outside distractions, and showering is totally optional. 

Seriously, it’s the best day ever! (And, yes, when I say that I hear Spongebob singing The Best Day Ever.) (You know, because I have kids!)

The Body Finder Series
The Last Echo to be released April 17, 2012.

The Pledge

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Kimberly for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one Signed The Pledge Poster by Kimberly Derting, 
Signed Bookmark, Signed Passport and 2 Stickers
*3 Winners will receive one Signed Bookmark by Kimberly Derting & Stickers.

Mark David Gerson

by Mark David Gerson 

It was a few weeks before Christmas three years. I was in the DVD section of Target, Christmas shopping for my daughter. As I was browsing through the movie racks, I overheard an older and younger woman discussing which video to buy a child on their list.

"What about Eragon?" the younger woman asked. "I hear it's good."

"Does it have magic in it? I don't want a movie with magic," the older one -- her mother? -- responded sternly.

A few moments later, they moved out of earshot. I was too stunned to follow.

Are we truly living in some version of my novel The MoonQuest's mythical setting? This land where vision is outlawed and visionaries put to death, where myth and magic are forbidden, where "once upon a time" is a forbidden phrase, and where fact is the only legal tender was merely a creation of my imagination...Wasn’t it?

What kind of culture have we created where children are denied magic, where fantasy is suspect and where dragons are relegated to dustbins?

Thirty years ago in an essay, fantasy/scifi author Ursula K. Le Guin asked, "Why are Americans afraid of dragons?" She concluded that most technological cultures dismiss works of the imagination because they lack measurable utility, an outlook only exacerbated in this country by our Puritan heritage.

If 30 years ago dragons were not fit for adults, are they now unfit for children, too?

While the Harry Potter books and movies broadened the reach of imaginative fiction for kids (and adults), it also expanded our hysterical suspicion and suppression of it.

The fact is, imaginative fiction opens our hearts, expands our spirit and broadens our minds in ways that nonfiction never can. It’s equally true that magical/fantastical fiction can carry more truth in its castles, dragons and trolls than many pieces of so-called literature.

That's why I subtitled The MoonQuest a "true fantasy.” To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing factual about it. But as those two women in Target have proven, it's decidedly and unfortunately true. 

Check below for Mark's Published Novels. 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Mark for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one e-book of The Book of Messages by Mark David Gerson.

JG Faherty

Guest Blog 
By JG Faherty 

Hello, internet readers and fans of the Book Nerd blog spot. Welcome to my holiday guest blog! And with the holidays so close, I thought today might be a good time to talk about some of the weirder facts and fables surrounding Jolly Old Saint Nick and his flying reindeer. After this, you might not want to close your eyes on Christmas eve! 

Christmas – the scariest holiday? 

In Italy, Santa’s not the person everyone hopes will show up with a bag of gifts. Instead, it’s La Befana, an ugly witch who’s covered in soot because she climbs down chimneys to deliver candy and presents to little children. But only the good ones! The bad ones get – you guessed it – a lump of coal. 

Eastern Europe has many scary holiday traditions, but the worst of them might just be the Krampus, a giant horned incubus who is the evil nemesis of Father Christmas. According to the various legends, the Krampus rides with Saint Nick and whips or beats the children who’ve been bad. 

Many weird and scary holiday traditions date back to before the invention of Santa/St. Nick/Father Christmas, when it was the winter solstice that everyone honored as a holiday. One of these is the tale of the Nimrod (I kid you not!). Nimrod is a biblical figure, the great-grandson of Moses. His claim to fame? He got his own mother pregnant! Yet, this must not have bothered her, because she planted an evergreen at his gravesite and ordered the whole kingdom to decorate it on his birthday. Sound familiar? 

The Power of Hel. No, not Hell, Hel. In ancient Finland, it was a tradition to make eight special cookies for Yuletide, each with a different shape. One of them represented the power ‘Hel,’ and the shape is exactly the same as the modern swastika. 

Party like it’s 1999! The origin of Christmas comes directly from pagan fertility festivals, which were held on December 24th, the shortest day of the year, to celebrate the new ‘birth’ of the sun, because on Dec. 25th the days began to get longer again. These festivals were filled with copious amounts of food and booze, and usually culminated in massive orgies. Much like present-day office parties. Then, in 350 AD, Pope Julius made a wise decision. He decided Dec. 25th would be the day Christians celebrated the birth of Christ, thus allowing him to make the orgy a religious holiday without angering the pagans they were busy assimilating throughout Europe. 

Speaking of parties, the people of Lapland have a great tale about the origin of Santa. Reportedly, in the ‘old days’ shamans used to feed reindeer a poisonous mushroom, and then drink the reindeer urine to experience the hallucinogenic effects without imbibing the poison. During their wacky trips, the shamans believed they flew through the sky all night, and then returned home through the chimneys of their houses. 

Was Santa the first Pawn Star? It’s a fact that Saint Nicholas was a real person, from Turkey. A man of great generosity, he created many of our modern holiday traditions, including the mythical figure of Santa Claus, who delivers gifts on Christmas Eve. According to the legends, St. Nick slipped gold-filled stockings into the windows of three poor women one Christmas Eve, thus giving us the tradition of hanging our stockings to be filled with gifts. However, it gets stranger. Pawn brokers adopted the symbol of three gold orbs as their sign, and now St. Nick is the patron saint of pawn brokers. 

Some of the most violent holiday tales come from Northern Europe (maybe it’s from being cooped up all winter long, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining?). Among them is the tradition from Iceland about the Jolasveinar, the ‘Yule Lads.’ These were 13 ogres who, in some tales, beat bad children with sticks. However, in other tales, they actually ate the bad children. Better watch out! What makes this so funny is that these 13 ogres are believed to be the precursors to the modern Santa’s elves! 

Then there is my favorite holiday fable, mainly because I wrote a story about it (The Yule Cat, published in Appalachian Winter Hauntings) a couple of years ago. In Finland and Iceland, the Yule Cat was a terrible beast who would roam the streets on Christmas Eve, looking into houses to try and find lazy children. If he saw children opening gifts, he knew they’d been hard workers all year. If not, well, let’s just say this cat – who is as big as a Volkswagen – doesn’t eat mice for dinner. Of course, if you were good, then Jule-nissen, the Yule Elf, would be riding around on his Yule Goat, delivering gifts. Yet even this nice little fellow didn’t start out that way. Originally, he was a gnomish figure who went to peoples’ houses and demanded they give him gifts. If the people refused, he’d wreak terrible havoc. 

Well, that’s it for my holiday cheer! So, remember, sleep with one eye open this year, because those sounds you hear on the roof might not be Santa delivering presents! 

And now for the obligatory pimping – a popular holiday tradition among writers! My novels GHOSTS OF CORONADO BAY and CARNIVAL OF FEAR are available on Amazon and other book-buying sites. And if you like them, look for my novella, THE COLD SPOT, and my next novel, CEMETERY CLUB, both coming out in March. And feel free to follow me on twitter (, facebook (, and at 

Happy Holidays!!

Check below for JG's Published Novels. 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JG for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one e-book of Carnival of Fear by JG Faherty.
*1 Winner will receive one e-book of Ghosts of Coronado Bay by JG Faherty.

Justin Dennis

Holidays back from College

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they've always been a weird time for me as well. My parents divorced when I was in the sixth grade, and since then my brother and I spent our Christmases split between houses. Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at one house, and at about noon we switch to the other house. It's a strange experience as a kid, having to spend two different Christmases with your parents. But my younger brother and I adjusted, and got used to it. 

When I got a job, it didn't seem so bad to work on Christmas because I wouldn't be missing much anyway. I could just be at one house before work and one house after work. So for the last couple years I worked at Starbucks on Christmas, and this year I'll be doing the same, but this year is also different because I'll be coming back home from college. I've been in California for three and a half months, and I'm very excited to go back to Seattle and visit my family for a couple weeks. 

So that's really what this holiday season will be about for me: spending time with my family, since I haven't seen them in so long and may not see them again until the summer. It's not even so much about Christmas anymore, as I make so much money working on that day that it'd be foolish of me not to do it. It's about the season as a whole. Everyone is so much happier around this time when they come in for their morning coffee, and it's the only time I get to spend with my family. This season is just... wonderful! 

That being said, I also have a lot to do when I return. I've been trying to work on the second book of the Through the Portal Trilogy (still untitled) while at college, but it's very difficult when all my time is pre-occupied with work and schoolwork, not to mention I write an opinion article every week in the Quaker Campus newspaper. I've found some time to write, but not as much as I'd like. So while I'm back home, I'm hoping to sit down and write for many, many hours. Hopefully I can get a good chunk of book two done. And even though it is work to write a novel, I love writing! So I don't view it as "Ugh, I have to write now," but rather "Yay! I have time to write now!" 

Because I'm coming back from college and I'm trying to write another book, this holiday season is really about spending time with my family and writing. Probably the two most important things in my life anyway! And whatever holiday you are celebrating this season, I hope that you have a wonderful time and can really appreciate everything that you have. :)

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Justin for making this Giveaway possible.

*1 Winner will receive one e-book of Through the Portal by Justin Dennis.

Heaven Liegh Eldeen

When I was asked to share a favorite holiday memory or tradition, I have to admit, I froze. Thinking of the holidays typically fills the minds of children and adults alike with images of large pretty boxes, bright metallic colors, twinkling lights, and feasts that could feed a small country. At least these are the images I grew up with, watching everyone around me and my favorite babysitter, the television. 

My holidays as a child were much different than the peaceful, joy filled scenes that play out in every holiday special. Being raised in a home with a mother who didn’t believe in the holiday spirit and a father who barely made enough money to pay for the gas it cost for him to get to work, made the season the same as every other day… bleak. That is, until a very special Christmas I remember at the age of seven. 

My family moved to California from Texas when I was five years old. We had been traveling from town to town for quite some time, so when we settled into the Cabana Lodge motel in Sacramento, I was happy to say the least. It was difficult sharing a small space with four other people and only having two double size beds, but it beat the old Chevy van I had been used to. With so many of us cramped in, there wasn’t much room for frivolous things such as toys, games or anything other than our clothes for that matter. But, there was a light at the end of my poverty tunnel. 

Right next door to our new ‘home’ was the best place that ever happened to me, the Washington Youth Center. The Center (as we called it) offered an array of entertainment, education, safety and festivities. I’d never known a single place where in one room you could learn how to box like Sugar Ray Leonard, and in the next room, learn how to knit a blanket. With a basketball court, billiard room, and a huge craft room, there was always something to keep the kids of the neighborhood busy and out of trouble. Needless to say, I spent every waking moment I could at the Center, my home away from home. 

And then, as if the small recreational mecca gods said ‘hey, we can do more for these kids’, the Center blew my little mind out of the water. Santa Claus decided to stop by during December of ’87. For years I had been told he was nothing more than a myth, a figment of the imagination parents told their children about to get them to behave. And why would my mother need a product of fiction to get her children to behave when she had her trusty broom? But there he was in the craft room, decked out in red velvet, black boots. He was fat and jolly just like the television said he would be. 

Every child took their turn on his lap except me. Something about him terrified me. Maybe it was my subconscious loyalty to my mother, or maybe just seeing something that wasn’t supposed to be real was too much for my seven year old brain to comprehend. Whichever the case, I ran crying into the bathroom. 

Barricading myself in a toilet stall didn’t stop Santa or his helpers from finding out what every child at the Center that day wanted for Christmas. Shortly after running into the bathroom, I was followed by the big guy and a female elf trying desperately to coax me out of my flushable sanctuary, to no avail. My mother was called to get me. I finally opened the stall door, to find a very angry mommy standing behind it. 

As I slowly inched my way out of the stall, I was shocked at what happened next. Furious that the center would allow Santa in without a parent’s permission, my mother grabbed my arm and began dragging me out of the building, cursing up a storm at Santa and his staff as they tried to explain they only wanted to give the kids a gift they might not otherwise get. As we made it to the door, I was suddenly possessed by some creature that knew this was my one shot to test the validity of the St. Nick rumors. I knew what I was about to do would put me in the hot seat with my mom, but like I said, I was possessed. At the top of my lungs and with everything I had inside of me, I screamed “I want a pound puppy!” as the door closed. 

I waited for weeks to see if the man who knew all had heard my cry. Christmas morning came, but when I looked under my pillow where I had placed my Christmas tree, a twig I had decorated with thread I had pulled from a sweater, there was nothing there. Of course, being the all-powerful, all supreme mommy she rubbed it in that he was only a man in a suit. Dejected, I left our motel room and went to the only place I felt like a kid. As I opened the door to the craft room, there he was with ten giant bags filled to the brim. As the white bearded saint saw me, he got up from his throne with a box covered in puppy wrapping paper and handed to me. Unlike the other children, I didn’t tear into it to see what I had gotten. 

Carefully peeling each piece of tape, as to not tear the paper, tears flooded my little eyes as I realized what hid underneath it. Not only had I got what I had asked for, but the big man one upped it by getting me the pound puppy with babies and a carrier. 

I didn’t receive any other gifts from the jolly ol’ guy after that year . It seemed every time he would visit the Center, I had chores to do. I held on to those puppies for dear life for quite some time, but more importantly, I held on to the spirit and happiness that that Christmas brought. I don’t get big into the holidays much, but I am sure to pass on a little of the joy that was brought to me so long ago. After all, when you really boil it down, it’s not about the gifts, as much as it is about lighting up someone’s day that may not otherwise know its warmth. 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Heaven for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one e-book of The Demon Side by Heaven Liegh Eldeen.

Rob Kaay

You can safely place a bet that Christmas Day in Perth, Western Australia, is going to be over 30 degrees celsius (over 85 degrees fahrenheit) and because of this, most Christmas mornings are spent at the beach swimming instead of inside a cosy lounge room jostling for fire-place real estate.

This Christmas, my fiancé and I came up with the idea to spend it with her family about five hours away on the south coast of Western Australia, to try and escape the usual Perth heat. In fact, we've just arrived home after an awesome five days away. And, yes, the temperature was around five degrees cooler down there, which meant we went fishing more than swimming, so our idea of escaping the heat was a good one. I even got a chance to sit on an old wooden table and chairs and write two more chapters for the sequel to Silverbirch as the wind blew through the trees and I looked out over Coalmine Beach in Walpole. Fitting too, because the two chapters I wrote, chapter 27 and 28, feature a lot of ocean.

Last year we traveled through thirty different countries in a ten-month period and spent Christmas at Lorna's Grandma's house near Manchester in England. A little town called Betley, to be exact. It was the first time I'd experienced a proper white-Christmas and the first time I realised you could put a six-pack of beer outside in the snow, instead of using the fridge. Believe me, the first time I came up with the idea, I thought I was the rocket-scientist who invented it. We gorged on oven-roasted ham and Yorkshire pudding and sipped on egg-nog and slow gin. And although I enjoyed the famous white-christmas I'd heard much about all my life and was in great company, I still yearned for the cold-meat version by the beach in my bathers that I had grown up with, with my mom and sister and my own extended family.

There are times when we get sick of doing the same thing in the same place at Christmas time but I'm sure most of you can agree, the moment you spend Christmas away from your family, especially in another country, even though you don't think you'll miss it too much, you find it just doesn't have the same feeling. It just isn't the same.

I hope your family Christmas was as special as always this year, but if it wasn't, try to make sure you're home for the next one.

Where I wrote a couple of chapters this Christmas.

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Rob for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 Winner will receive one Signed Paperback Copy of  Silverbirch by Rob Kaay.

Daniele Lanzarotta

A closer look into the Academy of the Fallen

As an author, when I think of the New Year, my mind goes straight to upcoming books and there are many of those to look forward to in 2012!

One of my main upcoming releases this coming year is the final book in the Imprinted Souls Series, Shattered Souls… but I can’t talk about that yet… may lead to emotional breakdown. *laughs* I’m just not ready to let go of the imprinted characters. 

There is however another book release in 2012 that I’m also excited about, and that is Nephilim, the second book in the Academy of the Fallen series! 

Unlike in Wide Awake, most of Nephilim is set in the Academy, which is quite a unique environment. Today, I thought I would share a little about why the Academy exists. 

The Academy is the home of fallen angels and humans who are hunted by ghosts and demons. The fallen ones ended up there for a number of reasons… lust, love, betrayal… but can you blame them for falling? Can you imagine being exposed to the lifestyle of humans and not being able to make choices? Not being able to fall in love? After hundreds… thousands of years even, being cast out of heaven was no longer uncommon. For every angel, there were hundreds of fallen ones.

Heaven was left with no choice…

In this world, there is a reason why the Fallen ones are getting a second chance. They are all that is left to protect the human race!

The official synopsis for Nephilim (Academy of the Fallen 2) will be released this January! Nephilim’s expected release date is February 28! 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Daniele for making this Giveaway possible.
*2 Winners will receive one e-book of Wide Awake by Daniele Lanzarotta.
*3 Winners will receive one Signed Wide Awake Bookmark by Daniele Lanzarotta.

Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit

Why Alcohol and Anxiety are a dangerous mix 

During the holidays most of us are thrown headfirst into social situations whether we like it or not. There’s the work holiday party, friend’s parties where everyone is trying to be more dynamic than the next person, and those memorable family gatherings where relatives think it’s okay to squeeze your face just because they haven’t seen you in a year. Some of it may make you nervous, and some may bore you half to death, and you’ll probably get through it all with a smile on your face and a drink in your hand. 

Why then do people say that anxiety sufferers should avoid alcohol lest their anxiety become? That doesn’t seem logical, when alcohol does such a great job of instantly calming your nerves as you pucker up and ask that hot guy in sales for a big, wet kiss? 

Well it turns out that although alcohol, in the short term, reduces anxiety, in the long term, alcohol actually makes anxiety worse: 

Here’s what you can expect from alcohol 

Short term effects of alcohol 

· Alcohol is a depressant because it acts quickly to depress the central nervous system, giving a feeling of relaxation for a short period of time. 

· Alcohol increases the chemical inhibitory neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid (or “GABA”), which has the effect of stopping the anxious feelings being produced. 

· Alcohol’s chemical effect therefore makes it a fast acting “anxiolytic” – i.e. an anxiety reducer. 

Long term effects of alcohol 

· Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are experienced as anxiety. This can fuel more alcohol intake, which results in a vicious cycle of anxiety and alcohol consumption. Patients with panic disorder who are alcohol dependent are unable to distinguish panic symptoms, with the exception of tremor, from alcohol withdrawal. 
(Panic attacks and alcohol withdrawal: Can subjects differentiate the symptoms? 

· Alcohol can impair the functions of hormone-releasing glands and their target tissues. Most significant is the effect of alcohol on blood sugar. Insulin and glucagon are the two main hormones that regulate blood sugar (glucose) from dietary sources, plus the body can also synthesize its own glucose if needed. However alcohol impairs the functions of these two hormones and also impairs the body’s ability to synthesize glucose, all of which results in hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes dizziness, confusion, weakness, nervousness, shaking and numbness. Although the body can both store and synthesize glucose, the brain cannot, and depends entirely on glucose supplied by the blood, and even brief periods of low glucose levels (hypoglycemia) can cause brain damage and trigger anxiety. 

(National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism No. 26 PH 352 October 1994 

· GABA is the major inhibitory (i.e. calming) neurotransmitter system in the central nervous system. It has been shown that long-term exposure to alcohol reduces the levels and function of the GABA-benzodiazepine (or “GBzR”) receptor in the central nervous system. In other words, long-term consumption actually reduces the anxiolytic function in the brain, making us less able to cope with anxiety in the long run. 

(Reduced levels of the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor in alcohol dependency in the absence of grey matter atrophy. 

· Serotonin Depletion. Alcohol consumption over a long period of time leads to a depletion of serotonin in the brain. As serotonin is a 'happiness' hormone this can lead to depression, and depression is often linked to anxiety. 

Unless you are in a coma or are a sociopath, everyone has a certain degree of anxiety. 

Anxiety is normal, but anxiety disorders are not. Yet anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., afflicting 40 million adults. And alcohol is an easily accessible form of self-medication for your anxiety. But it could also end up becoming your only source of relief and your worst enemy. 

So, as you toast the new year with that third (or tenth) glass of mulled wine, ask yourself, is this getting get me through another inane conversation with that woman in accounting who insists on showing me photos of her cats, or do I need this just to get through another terrifying day on earth? 

Happy, healthy holidays, and safe drinking to everyone…. 

Dr Annabelle R Charbit 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Annabelle for making this Giveaway possible.
*2 Winners will receive one Signed Copy of A Life Lived Ridiculously
by Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit.

Victoria Foyt

My Dwindling Winter Wonderland 
By Victoria Foyt 

I grew up in Coral Gables, Florida where winter meant the occasional need to don a sweater or quit swimming in the pool. I never even saw snow until I was twenty-three. So I don’t have a deep attachment to it, and songs like “Winter Wonderland” never make me nostalgic for snowmen. When I hear it, however, it simply causes me angst about the increased deterioration of our environment. 

In the lane, snow is glistening 
A beautiful sight 
We’re happy tonight 
Walking in a winter wonderland 

In 1934, when Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith wrote their cheery pop song, they didn’t have solastalgia. That’s an actual, newly coined term that means heartache over the loss of one’s environment. It’s aptly named; you feel the longing for a healthier planet when the word rolls off your tongue. 

While I was writing my new Young Adult fantasy/sci-fi/adventure/romance, Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls Part One), I was surprised to tap into my own deep solastalgia. Like seventeen-year old Eden Newman, I hadn’t realized how sad it made me. When her love interest, the beastly Bramford tells her she has solstalgia whether she knows it or not, he could have been talking to me. 

Mostly, I sit at my computer writing or taking care of business. I play tennis on manicured courts weekly, which gets me outside. Rarely, however, am I in the wild. I’m insulated from nature, just like Eden. 

In her post-apocalyptic world, mankind lives in underground tunnels to avoid the intense solar radiation, sleeping by day, working through the nights. When Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, perhaps mankind’s only hope, she is cast out into the last patch of rainforest and also the arms of Bramford who she believes in her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. 

Eden is completely at a loss, unable to survive. This is my fear too: how would I survive if a nuclear bomb or tsunami hit my coastal town of Santa Monica. I don’t even know how to build a campfire or trap a squirrel. The odds are slim, I tell myself. 

And yet, when I think about how different the world is from the “Winter Wonderland” of 1934 with today’s melting icebergs and warming seas, I can’t help but worry. Not just for me, but also for my children and the children I hope they’ll have. 

The overconsumption of this holiday season only adds to my angst. Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of chopping down trees for decoration it became a time for everyone to plant one? Instead of fancy paper tossed aside on Christmas morning, why don’t we recycle old newspapers for wrapping? And I know I’ll sound like a humbug, but really, the decorative lights? Yes, they’re pretty, but wouldn’t it be better to save the electricity? Isn’t the sight of twinkling stars scattered across a glass-black sky enough to satisfy? 

At some point, we will have to reign in our destructive impulses and live more in tune with Mother Nature. If not, well, read Revealing Eden and see how the future may turn out. Not only will the loss of our habitat mess with our holiday plans, but I also imagine that many social conventions will be turned on their head. In our day, Eden would be considered gorgeous: thin, blue-eyed and blond, right? In the future, when her white skin doesn’t provide enough protection against The Heat, she is branded as a lowly Pearl. Unless she soon finds a mate, she’s doomed. She hopes a dark-skinned Coal will save her, but time is running out. 

It could happen to you or yours, my friend. 

So this holiday season ask what can I do to create a more sustainable environment? And maybe future generations won’t feel heartbreaking solastalgia when they hear these hopeful lyrics: 

As we dream by the fire 
To face unafraid 
The plans that we’ve made 
Walking in a winter wonderland.

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Victoria & Matt for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 winner will receive Save the Pearls Part One, Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt, 
Signed poster & Save the Pearls Bracelet.

Michael J. Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan On Waiting for Christmas

Christmas is coming. Everyone thinks the days are getting shorter but any kid under the age of twelve can tell you that’s a load of crap. Sure the suns is just phoning it in like everyone else over the holidays, except maybe Santa—imagine being an elf and trying to ask for the holidays off. But the point I’m trying to make is that as far as a kid is concerned, Einstein had it right and time really is relative. Time is slowing down, dragging itself to the finish line as if it had cinder blocks tied around its legs. Anticipation and desire has that effect on time. The more you want something…the longer the wait, regardless of what clocks and calendars might insist, and everyone knows they both lie just as much as bathroom weight scales. 

I was a kid back before there were color photos, and at times I remember my childhood that way—all black and white like a Leave It to Beaver episode. It was the early sixties, the hey-day of Christmas-for-kids. Throughout most of history Christmas was a very grown-up holiday, but after the start of the twentieth century it started to orient toward children. The middle class found wealth and wanted to spoil their kids with Christmas trees, tales of Santa, cartoons in primetime, and of course presents. 

When I was a kid there were BB guns, cap guns, rubber band guns—hey, we had been through two world wars and still in Vietnam, what’d you expect? There was also Play-Doh, Easy-Bake Ovens, Erector Sets, Barbie, and GI Joe. But I knew what I would be getting: a Tonka dump truck and bulldozer set. I had wanted something else—I no longer remember what—but my dad talked me into the all-metal, heavy-duty construction toys that I could play with in the backyard, moving real dirt. I was sold. I was more than sold, I was freaking out with anticipation. It didn’t matter that I lived in Michigan and in December there was a foot of snow covering every square inch of dirt in our backyard I wanted those trucks more than I had ever wanted anything in my short life. I had lain awake each night staring at the ceiling above my bed imagining how I would create super highways the likes of which had never been dreamed of before or since. 

For any kid waiting for a their first set of Tonka trucks so they could realize Eisenhower’s dream of a transcontinental freeway system that began right in their own backyard, I can confirm that Christmas Eve is the longest night ever. I had laid awake picturing hundreds of Matchbox commuters backed up at the off-ramps, honking horns at the creeps flying up the closed lane refusing to merge early with the rest. They were always the ones in the sports cars with the double strips and the doors and trunk that actually opened. You just knew they were tools. 

The waiting was torture, penance for not eating Brussels’ sprouts—like we really needed tiny cabbage from the Netherlands anyway. My parents were awake. I could hear them in the living room, and given that my father appeared as excited about my coming construction vehicles as I had been, I wondered if he and Mom were in there already playing with them. My little heart pounded like a young puppy. I looked at the clock and the minute hand had yet to tock. It was just frozen there at three past nine. My God! I had only been in bed three minutes! How was that possible? The night would never— 

My mother shook me for the third time, but all I wanted to do was sleep. She was always shaking me, calling my name…usually for school. I just hugged the pillow harder, hanging on with a death grip trying to drift back to wonderful sleep. 

“Michael, get up. It’s Christmas.” 

Through the foggy haze that one single word—Christmas—penetrated like a lightning bolt. Eyes snapped wide and I rocketed out of bed. I sprinted down the hall to the living room. It was all dark, the sun was still dozing, and not even the tree lights were on but…I could see strange new shapes in the shadows. Large shapes. 

I headed for the tree, but my mother caught me. “Get washed and dressed first. We need to go to church.” 

Huh? Church? It was like throwing a car speeding at ninety miles per hour into reverse. Oh, you’ve got to be kidding, lady. Of all days, why do you insist on going to church on Christmas! That’s just nuts. There was no reasoning with her. Out into the icy cold we went, riding to the church in the middle of the night like we were the Van Trap family escaping Austria. I sat on a wooden pew between my mother and sister. 

“Watch the stained-glass windows,” my sister whispered to me sagely. They were jet black as if covered with tar paper. “When you see them light up—when you can see colors in them and make out the faces of the saints…it will almost be time to go.” 

So I sat, fists and teeth clenched, staring up at the windows whose dull blackness mocked me. All the while the priest, nothing more than a disembodied voice, babbled on about a baby, some sheep, and a star. Just as I had become certain my brat of a sister was also a lying dog, I saw it. Faint at first, but it was there, the hazy outline of a face in the window—blues, yellows, reds and greens. I could see colors in the stained glass! My sister gave me a knowing smile, and sure enough, everyone in the church started singing joyously, and for the first time I felt moved on a spiritual level while in church. It was a Christmas miracle! 

When we arrived home I sprinted for the door. “Wait!” My mother cried. “Breakfast first!” 

We all stared incredulously—even my dad had a puzzled expression. 

“Just kidding,” she said. 

To this day, few things can compare to that moment. As I grew older I often longed for that purity of total unabashed desire. The years that followed were filled with disappointments, and I learned never to surrender myself so fully to expectations. Such wanton passion inevitably led to disappointment. There was the time I finally managed to land a date with the girl I had been in love with since grade school—crashed and burned. Or the day I got my first car and then it broke down on the ride home. Nothing was ever as good as I imagined, maybe because of my over developed imagination. 

You see, I’m a fantasy novelist. And this Christmas, more than four decades later, I’m reliving that same experience I had as a kid, waiting for the Tonka trucks. This time it involves my series The Riyria Revelations, which is being released this holiday season in three volumes: Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron. The first two have just come out and the final one is due in January. It’s been a long time in the making—twenty-one years to be exact. You see I did something kind of crazy and wrote all six books before publishing the first. Truth be told, I wasn’t even planning on publishing them. The idea came to me in 1990 but at that time I had sworn off writing as my previous thirteen novels went nowhere. Still, I couldn’t help turning the story around in my head…playing with it like a tongue probes the empty space of a newly lost tooth. I finally started writing it in 2004 and it only took four years of writing and two and a half years of editing to get it to where it is now…and since about June it’s just been down to the waiting. 

Given the timing of the season, it’s hard not to remember lying in bed imagining super highways, or staring up at that stained glass looking for the color of the saint’s faces to appear—to reveal a miracle. This is the first time in nearly half a century that I’ve allowed myself to dream again, to hope, to passionately give myself up to the excitement of what lies just a short time away. While I may be risking a terrible disappointment like that first date or my first car, I think this one is worth the risk. 

I hope people like my books…I hope all the effort and late nights wasn’t just a waste of time. Soon I’ll know what people think of the series…the whole series. But until January I’ll just stare up at those windows and wait for the rising sun. It won’t be long now…right?

Check below for Michael's Published Novels. 

And now, The Giveaways.

Thank you Michael for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 winner will receive Exclusive Riyria Revelations T-shirt (Sizes available L and XL).

George Dalphin

Sings to Crows. A short story by George Dalphin. December 2011. 

(-66 to 54) 

The fifteenth Dalai Lama, fifty-seventh President of the United States, and seventh Consul of the Free Noösphere, Sings to Crows died today in Turkeyturn, the location of the Oneida Indian Reservation in the New York region of North America where he was born in the year -66. 

The lifelong advocate of happiness and Humanity began his life in a world closer in form to the Industrial Age than to our own, before the Noösphere and Emergence, and times were hard in America. Everything was changing - Humanity was beginning to build the first versions of a global network while the old medieval systems of governance and finance around the world inexorably turned from relevant to revenant - and if it hadn’t been for the kind-eyed Oneida boy from Turkeyturn, who knows what our species would have made of itself. 

As a spiritual leader, he modernized pre-Emergent Buddhism and managed its reconciliation with the knowledge and practices of Science, following his previous iteration’s efforts in leading the way for the old religions finally to wander out of the dark ages while providing Science language with which to excavate the spiritual. As President of the United States, he took the ultimate risk with the Grand Gesture, deconstructing the American military complex, which over two decades succeeded through example in ridding essentially the entire Earth of its old nationalistic military system. As Consul of the Free Noösphere, he was instrumental in the adoption of the Edict of Freewill and Individuation, setting a precedent for the liberty of individuals of any form from the unwanted influence of metamind conglomerates, without which legislation there would likely not be biological life left in the solar system. 

Though later in life he was aided by a modified Jarvik circulatory prosthesis after a failed gene poisoning attempt during his presidency, Sings to Crows always remained essentially biological, maintaining the majority of the body he was born with in the Flesher tradition. While not philosophically a Flesher, he was always a Humanist, and when in his early adulthood he finally did come to ideological grips with the Transhumanists and joined the ranks of that group, he brought with him into the movement some of the notions of individualism and wildness that could now be said to have kept it alive in the face of metamind-perceived inevitability, while also building credence among the Transhumanists for the oft-misunderstood ethos of Flesherism. 

Sings to Crows’ parents were the simple-living Crowfoot and Beatrix Graves, briefly famous in their own right after the great Belgian documentarian Audrey Nijs chronicled their love, marriage and personal philosophies in the beautiful and inspirational movie Turkeyturn Mornings. He was the third of the couple’s three boys, preceded by older brothers Bicycle Kick and Good Gloves, both of whom survive him, and he was followed after just over a year by his younger sister Isis Jane. He and his siblings all spoke with tenderness and nostalgia of their formative years in Turkeyturn; their family bond was clearly strong. Sings to Crows’ sister Isis Jane was his closest friend growing up, and the two remained confidants throughout their lives, until her assassination at the hands of Flesher extremists in the Intercalary Period at the end of the Evolutionary War. 

His Holiness’ identity as the fifteenth incarnation of the Dalai Lama was discovered when he was a boy of only four, with the help of Lamas Sonam and Dawa, who had been associates of Tenzin Gyatso and would become close friends and teachers of the young, new Dalai Lama throughout his childhood. It was Lamas Sonam and Dawa who famously accompanied Sings to Crows through public school for twelve years. In photographs and video from his boyhood, the two monks can often be seen standing near him, smiling brightly in their orange robes, and would remain by his side as advisors until their deaths two weeks apart while Sings to Crows was in law school. 

The emergence of a Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader who was also both a modern American child and a descendent of the Haudenosaunee, however, caused the young man’s childhood to be surrounded continually by global controversy. As an adorable, good-natured youngster, he quickly became a media favorite and appeared intermittently throughout the Thirsty Thirties as a culture-commentator and anti-war advocate, however his relatively radical post-capitalist ideologies made him a target for conservative vitriol even at such a young age. 

After receiving a JD degree from Tulane Law School at the vigorous age of twenty, Sings to Crows began his first official world tour as Dalai Lama, during which he made the connections with other cosmopolitan philosophers and aid organizations that would eventually form the neural net of his global activism network One Love, which in the following decades would become one of the first metaminds and remains among the few such entities not generally detested by humans. 

By the time he was twenty-five, Sings to Crows had become a global figure and role model, and it was Buddhism which began to chafe at its leader’s controversial admonitions. During this period he wrote perhaps his most important essay, Nothing Is False, which shattered many of the traditional dogmas of Mahayana Buddhism and old-style religion in general, and advocated a scientific exploration into the nature of identity, spirituality and reincarnation - all increasingly relevant issues at the time, as the world of nature was gradually painted over by the earliest layers of the virtual world which would become the Noösphere, while the human spirit was being reverse-engineered as software. 

As Transhumanism clashed with orthodoxy and the Anthroclasm began to manifest across the globe throughout the Fifties, beginning with the First World Riot and culminating in the Moon Exodus, the early Noösphere hid the upheaval and atrocities of the Anthroclasm from those virtually-fortified few in the First World who were already becoming inextricably entertained by the unreal and were already on the path to becoming the cells of the gradually-coalescing first metaminds. Through his activism with One Love, Sings to Crows found common interest between the information streams of the emerging metaminds, the Transhumanists on the Moon and the riotous masses of the Anthroclasm, eventually building common understandings of Panhumanity that many feel kept the metaminds from carrying out their proposed plan to phase out biological reproduction everywhere. Nearly three decades later, during the Intercalary Period of the Evolutionary War, Sings to Crows completed his work in legal identity theory with the Edict of Freewill and Individuation, which set a framework for the birth of the Free Noösphere, still considered by many among the Transhumanists to be Humanity’s greatest achievement yet. 

It was in this context of post-Anthroclasm, post-Moon Exodus America that Sings to Crows won an unlikely victory over Sea of Cortez Governor Pearl Azulli to become America’s fifty-seventh President. Initially unpopular with both the conservative Flesher constituency and the hovering, leering new metaminds, Sings to Crows gradually endeared himself to the widely-varied populace of his country, eventually generating enough political capital to allow what he dubbed the Grand Gesture - a complete scuttling of America’s physical-world military complex, which would eventually lead to the altogether dissolution of Industrial-era physical militaries throughout Earth and the Solar System. Though his administration was largely otherwise unsuccessful with the majority of its political endeavors, Sings to Crows put the entire weight of his personality behind the Grand Gesture, and it eventually changed the nature of Flesher life irrevocably. 

Of course, by the time the Grand Gesture had come to fruition, long-cooking Transhumanist resentment at the Anthroclasm’s atrocities was already suggesting the imminent Evolutionary War, in which battle would move from Near-Earth Orbit to the DNAscape. Eventually Sings to Crows was forced to relocate with his family and closest advisors to the Moon, where he lived out his remaining years in relative peace and happiness, writing a number of philosophical treatises, as well as his Earth Tales series of allegorical fiction, during this period. From these Moon years came the ideological positions that would eventually cohere into his Edict of Freewill and Individuation, the most-seconded piece of Noösphere legislation in history and generally credited with having saved biological life from the reconstitution of all Solar System matter into computronium, which the majority of metaminds of the period were advocating. The ensuing establishment of the data realm known as the Free Noösphere, in which the majority of human entities now reside, can be directly linked to the Edict of Freewill and Individuation before it, and the end of the Evolutionary War immediately following. 

Each of the first seven years of the Free Noösphere’s existence, Sings to Crows received a significant percentage of the votes for the position of Consul, despite being motherborn and never having experienced the Noösphere directly, let alone sought the office of Consul. In the seventh year he received a majority of votes and accepted, receiving a temporary neural cloud-connective nodule in order to process information at something closer to the Noösphere’s pace than his natural brain could allow. Once his year was complete, however, he had the nodule removed and never entered the Noösphere directly again, despite remarking often about the majesty of the experience. Indeed, Sings to Crows’ direct-experience accounts of the Noösphere helped foment the late Twenty-First Century Introdus movement. 

His Holiness spent the waning forty-seven years of his body’s life with his family and friends at their modest home on the ridge of Aitken Crater, on the Moon, and traveling the Solar System to spread his optimistic, panhuman message of happiness and plurality. 

At the time of his bodily death, one cannot help but remember his departure speech from his Consulship, which he ended with the sentence, “I will do what I can to be reborn next as pure thought, pure being, in the Free Noösphere.” While the Scientific Community metamind is vocally doubtful of the possibility that a spiritual being might manifest orphanogenetically into the Noösphere, Sings to Crows’ intent has proven to go a long way toward realizing that which had previously seemed would require a miracle. 

Humanity remains hopeful that somehow we will see this soul again. 

Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you George for making this Giveaway possible.
*2 winners will receive the best of album, The Invisible Truth by George Dalphin.

Elizabeth Muller

Tears and Blood and Joy

I knew that getting my book published would change my life, but I didn't know in what way. 

The first thing that hit me was a bad case of vertigo and nausea as soon as TreasureLine wanted Darkspell, my YA paranormal romance novel. I slammed the panic button and requested some more time before I sent it. I'm one lucky gal because my publisher is a real sweetheart. She consented and I deleted about 8,000 words; that's about 6 hours worth of writing gone.

As a writer, you never know when that agent/publisher will say yes. Your manuscript must be ready to the very minute!

I've always wanted to do my own chapter illustrations, but had forgotten all about it after I sent my baby off for editing. I emailed my publisher and asked her what she thought if I illustrated each chapter. She said it was a great idea if I wanted to do that. Over the course of a week and 117 hours worth of time, I completed 39 illustrations.

After a long nail-biting wait, the editor sent a marked up Darkspell for me to work on. When I was done, I had to wait for another long period of time. What to do now? After working day in and day out nonstop for a few months for Darkspell's perfection, this sudden bout of nothingness left me feeling out of place.

Then the thought hit me. Marketing. I could start marketing my book. I hunted down an author pal of mine and asked him how he handled pre-ordering. I tinkered with PayPal and slowly updated my website.

Is your head spinning yet?

There's so much work involved in getting a book published, but one thing's for sure, I couldn't have done all this without the moral support of other writers! Not only that, but I have the joy of knowing that I've finally reached my life's dream.

Would you like for me to share something fun?
From the author's portfolio, never before seen footage:

Chapter 15 illustration

FuN fAcT: the cover model is my 12 year-old son manipulated by moi to look 17!

Elizabeth Mueller Website (find all 39 chapter illustrations!)

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Elizabeth for making this Giveaway possible.
*1 winner will receive one e-book of Darkspell by Elizabeth Mueller.

Milda Harris

The Gift of Reading

The holidays are almost upon us and that can only mean one thing – shopping! Ahem, I mean gift giving and good cheer, of course. That being said, I have two book gift stories about Christmas. 

One, is a gift I gave. It was to my then very young cousin, Lauren. One Christmas, I gave her a book I really enjoyed when I was her age - Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I didn’t know it then, but I was passing on the reading bug because she tore through the first book and told her dad she needed to get the second, then the third, and really, the whole series. Lauren’s been on a reading spree ever since and that gift started it all. Who knew? Not me. I just wanted to share a book I loved as a little girl. 

Another, is a gift I received. A few years ago, I received Eragon and Eldest by Christopher Paolini for Christmas from a boyfriend. I was interested in reading them, but truthfully thought he’d enjoy them more. What happened is that we both loved the books and it was the first time that I had ever had that sort of reading sharing with a boyfriend – that connection of reading and loving the same books, with someone I loved dearly. Wow. Sexy. But, more importantly, I heard Paolini’s story about becoming a writer and a spark was born in my mind – maybe one did not have to go the traditional publishing route to be a successful writer as long as you had a great story to tell… 

Maybe one of the gifts you give this holiday season will make an impact on a person you care about. Hey, if you’re at a loss, a book is always a good gift! I know it’s my gift of choice – both to give and to receive. 

Luckily, I’m almost done with shopping which means: back to writing for me! If you’re a fan of my books, I’m working on editing a Kait Lenox Chick Lit Mystery - Funeral Crashing #2: Adventures of a Graveyard Girl. Look out for it at the beginning of 2012. Kait is back and she’s going to Homecoming with the hottest guy in school, Ethan Ripley – the perfect setting for romance…and murder. And, I’m about half way through writing a new book - a Sci-Fi Chick Lit called The Doppelgangers. Citrus is having a rough morning – she’s late to school, she runs into the girl she hates in the principal’s office (mostly because that girl loves to call her Orange!), and when Citrus finally gets to class she learns that she’s already there. Wait. What? A Doppelganger has taken over her life. Dun, dun, dun. 

Happy reading…and shopping and most of all, happy holidays! 

Check below for Michael's Published Novels. 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Milda for making this Giveaway possible.
*2 winners will receive one e-book Copy of  the Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris.

More Giveaways. 
Thank you James Vallesteros, Gemma Halliday & Kiki Hamilton for your donations.

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

4 Winners will receive one Jace & Clary Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

4 Winners will receive one Isabelle Lightwood Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

4 Winners will receive one Simon Lewis Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Starcrossed Series by Josephine Angelini.
4 Winners will receive one Lucas Delos Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Hush, Hush Series by Becca Fitzpatrick.
4 Winners will receive one Nora Grey Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Deadly Cool and Deadly Suiciade by Gemma Halliday.
1 Winner will receive Deadly Cool Trading Cards by Gemma Halliday.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton.
4 Winners will receive Signed Faerie Ring Bookmarks by Kiki Hamilton.

Good Luck Everyone! There's a lot of Amazing Prizes to be won.
Please follow all Rules to Qualify!


Sheryl Jones
1 Winner will receive one Signed copy of Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck
along with one Ren Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros.

Casey Nicole
1 Winner will receive one Signed copy of Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
along with one Ren Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros.

1 Winner will receive one copy of Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck
along with one Ren Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros.

Alannah sutherland & Savanna Ucinski
2 Winners will receive one Ren Art Postcard & Bookmark by James Vallesteros.

Justine Kim
1 Winner will receive one ARC copy of Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly
along with one Willow Fields Art Bookmark by James Vallesteros and
one Angel Burn Tote Bag.

Heather C. Cox,Vicki Wilson
2 Winners will receive one Willow Fields Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

1 Winner will receive one copy of Possess by Gretchen McNeil
along with one Signed Possess Bookmark, a Tattoo & a Bridget Art
Bookmark by James Vallesteros.

Teressa Oliver & Georgia Gaudette
2 Winners will receive one Bridget Art Bookmark & Bridget
Postcard by James Vallesteros.

Julie Chris
1 Winner will receive one copy of Cemetery Girl by David Bell.

Desiree Reilly
1 Winner will receive one Limited Edition Cemetery Girl by David Bell Poster made by
the famous Hatch Show Print in Nashville.

Mady Olive
1 Winner will receive one copy of Fury by Elizabeth Miles.

Maghon Thomas & Jessica @ Taking It One Book
2 Winners will receive one e-book (any format) of
Beatrice Munson by Lorena Bathey.

Sarah Clark
1 Winner will receive The Orchard Festival Photographs.

Bella Colella
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Swoon & Swear by Nina Malkin

Alice Priday
1 Winner will receive a Signed (This can be Personalized)
Copy of Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough.

1 Winner will receive one Audio Version of Once a Witch.

Courtney Wyant
1 Winner will receive one Audio Copy of Always a Witch.

1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Possession by Elana Johnson,
Signed Bookmark & 2 Tagged Stickers.

Tiffany Borka & May Pau
2 Winners will receive one Signed Bookmark by Elana Johnson & Tagged Stickers.

Library Lady
Angela Sanders

1 Winner will receive one Signed The Pledge Poster by Kimberly Derting,
Signed Bookmark, Signed Passport and 2 Stickers

Lisa Richard, Sweety & Danielle Eisner
3 Winners will receive one Signed Bookmark by Kimberly Derting & Stickers.

Maritza Robinson
1 Winner will receive one e-book of The Book of Messages by Mark David Gerson.

Nylez @ Book Quotes and Lyrics
1 Winner will receive one e-book of Carnival of Fear by JG Faherty.

Kelly Lynn Mcquay
1 Winner will receive one e-book of Ghosts of Coronado Bay by JG Faherty.

Alba solorzano
1 Winner will receive one e-book of Through the Portal by Justin Dennis.

Stacey Clifford
1 Winner will receive one e-book of The Demon Side by Heaven Liegh Eldeen.

Julieta Christy
1 Winner will receive one Signed Paperback Copy of Silverbirch by Rob Kaay.

Christine Reibel Arcidiacono & Tabby Hart
2 Winners will receive one e-book of Wide Awake by Daniele Lanzarotta.

Sarah Sally, Janine Pelfrey & Jennifer Kalman
3 Winners will receive one Signed Wide Awake Bookmark by Daniele Lanzarotta.

Yvonne Sanders & Deann Fox
2 Winners will receive one Signed Copy of A Life Lived Ridiculously
by Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit.

Roxanne Kade
1 winner will receive Save the Pearls Part One, Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt,
Signed poster & Save the Pearls Bracelet.

Jules Mac
1 winner will receive Exclusive Riyria Revelations T-shirt (Sizes available L and XL).

Isabella Gemma & Jenny Bynum
2 winners will receive the best of album, The Invisible Truth by George Dalphin.

Lisa Harwood
1 winner will receive one e-book of Darkspell by Elizabeth Mueller.

Theresa Polenik & Mary Huff
2 winners will receive one e-book Copy of the Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris.

Julie Smeltzer, Amy Stogner, Karen Anderson & Becky Acosta
4 Winners will receive one Jace & Clary Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Amanda Alvarez, Terri Dion, Andrea Kozári & Kara DIDomizio
4 Winners will receive one Isabelle Lightwood Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Fra E Fede, Valerie Rusnak,Gisele Alvarado & Natalie Hillier
4 Winners will receive one Simon Lewis Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Tandra Smith, Maria Qa, Nicole M, & Teri Hack
4 Winners will receive one Lucas Delos Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Becky Daresh, Julie Jansen, Randi Moulton & Sarah Ross
4 Winners will receive one Nora Grey Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros.

Sharon B
1 Winner will receive Deadly Cool Trading Cards by Gemma Halliday.

Ana Lucía, Tania Flores, Herondale, Gwen Lim Ce & Rose Pryimak
4 Winners will receive Signed Faerie Ring Bookmarks by Kiki Hamilton.

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