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Friday, December 30, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Heidi Cullinan

Christmas Cookie

Every year I make a metric tonnage of Christmas cookies. I start right around the first of December and end up hurriedly putting the last ones together right before my daughter gets out of school, usually, because the goal is always to give the cookies away as gifts. Teachers, instructors for lessons, the mailman, the neighbors, and more. It all sounds good in theory, but it means I make a lot of cookies.

What I love most about this tradition is twofold: one, I always know what I’m bringing to gatherings or as a hostess gift, and two, everyone always has a favorite. Some of the cookies are in the rotation specifically for certain individuals. My sister loves the fudgy bonbons. My daughter’s godfather loves the peanut butter cup temptations. My husband goes weak in the knees for gingerbread. My sister-in-law is there entirely for the monster cookies.

Every year it seems I add another cookie, and every year I can’t take it away because it immediately becomes the one someone can’t live without. Is it a hassle? Yes. Is it expensive? Yeah, it can get there. But man, it’s fun, especially when I give myself the time to get the job done. The house smells amazing. The porch is full of cooling cookies and cookies in tins and bags and everything else. (Benefit of living in Iowa: your screened-in porch is your walk-in freezer in winter.) And everyone is so happy to get the cookies as gifts. They love the variety, love that you took the time, love that you thought of them.

And think of them I do. While I’m baking the fudgy bon bons, I think of my sister and the time we made them together, of how we had to find somewhere open on Christmas Day evening that had sweetened condensed milk. (Walgreens.) My daughter and husband usually do the cut-out cookies, which include the gingerbread, and I love listening to their banter and teasing as they work. I remember the face of my therapist as she poked through the gift bag full of goodies, how her eyes lit up and how she thanked me, of how I finally felt like I’d given her something back that equalled what she gives me. I remember how one year we didn’t get the cookies done before school got out and my daughter had to deliver them to the teachers’ doors. She actually asks every year now if we can do that again just because it’s fun.

Best of all, making my Christmas cookies reminds me of what the holidays are supposed to be about: giving, of my time and myself, for those that I love and who mean something to our family. That, and making Christmas cookies means there will be spritz shaped as green trees with red sprinkles. Because those are my favorite.


Ed Maurer’s life would be fine if he could just get Laurie Parker off his back. He’s bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semi-pro football career, and he volunteers now at a local community center. It’s just that every time he turns around, that damn professional dancer is in his way, hating Ed right back. But when a bargain Ed strikes at the center lands him as an assistant in Laurie’s ballroom dancing class, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Both Ed and Laurie have heartbreak in their pasts, but somehow dancing together eases their individual pain. For Ed, dancing with Laurie becomes a way to reconnect with his body after losing football. For Laurie, partnering with Ed has erased some of his fear of performing and brought back joy to a sport he wasn’t sure he could ever truly love again.

As Laurie and Ed lose themselves in dance, their lives continue to spin around them: Ed’s injury makes it clear he’s nowhere near recovery, Laurie feels the pressure by friends and family to perform once more, and the community center that has become such an important part of both their worlds threatens to close. Alone, they haven’t had the strength or spirit to face what life has hurled at them. But as the turns of their personal paths lead them into the arms of love, Ed and Laurie begin to think that if they dance this dance together, they might be able to succeed.

Read Excerpt:
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Heidi has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When she isn’t writing, Heidi enjoys knitting, reading, movies, TV shows on DVD, and all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats.

Find out more at
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Win a copy of Heidi’s novel Dance With Me: just leave your own favorite holiday memory in the comments for your chance to win.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Kelli A. Wilkins

New Year, New Writing Goals
By Kelli A. Wilkins, Amber Quill Press Author

Hi everyone!

As 2011 winds down to a close, I find myself reflecting on the writing goals I set for myself way back in January. Did I achieve all that I wanted to? Could I have written more? Should I have put in more time in front of the computer, blogging or working on another book? Or was it entirely okay to sit in the back yard this July and watch the fireflies?

A friend and I were talking recently, and she asked me how the writing was going. I told her what I was working on and mentioned that I average two new books a year, plus some short stories.

“Two a year?” she exclaimed.

“Yes,” I answered. “I could write more books, maybe do five a year, but my stories tend to be longer,” I said.

She looked at me like I had three heads. “You do know that most people don’t even write two books in their life, don’t you?”

Her comment made me realize that everyone’s writing goals (and successes) are different. And that’s because every writer is different. There’s no “right” way to write – as long as you’re happy with your results. Writing is a very personal and individualized process. One writer’s goals or self-expectations may be entirely unrealistic for someone else.

At this time of year I look back at the books I’ve had published, compare them to last year’s books, and vow to write more in the coming year. I revisit those half-started outlines and piles of story ideas and pick out the most promising ones to “start fresh” with in January. It’s motivating to plan out the next year’s characters and dramas – after all, I’ll be living with these people for months!

If you’re a writer (established or just starting out) what are your writing goals for 2012? Do you want to finish the novel you started last year (or haven’t started yet)? Send out a dozen short stories? Enter a contest? Now is the perfect time to sit down and make a list of all you want to accomplish. Having a list of projects and priorities will help keep your writing objectives on track. Try not to compare yourself and your writing goals to anyone else. Remember, you’re writing your book at your pace.

If you’re determined to start a new book, make a timeline for research, character development, plotting, etc. Give yourself a deadline for when you will start writing and stick to it. Decide how many pages or chapters you want to finish each day/week/month. Little by little, your book will take shape, and you’ll be amazed at your progress.

But keep a balance. Don’t let yourself become so “goal” oriented that you burn yourself out, stress yourself half to death, and let the writing life take the place of your real life. (Believe me, I’ve been there and I’ve learned.) Family, friends, pets, neighbors, and having fun are all important parts of being alive. Make time for your books, but also make time for yourself and those you love. (Yes, it’s perfectly okay to leave the husband parked in front of a movie and go write for two hours. But make sure when you turn the computer off, you focus on the present moment.)

Brand-new calendars are waiting to hang on our walls and each page is filled with unexplored days yet to come. Every new month is bursting with hope, possibilities, and opportunities. Make the most of the upcoming year. Set some goals for yourself. Write as much as you need to or want to, and then sit in the yard and watch the world go by.

About the Author:
Kelli A. Wilkins has published over a dozen erotic romances with Amber Quill Press. Her list of weekly writing goals used to go on for pages, but now she has scaled back and only works on one book at a time. Her two romances for 2011 were A Perfect Match and Four Days with Jack.

Kelli invites readers to visit her website to catch up on all of her writings and sign up for her newsletter. Kelli also maintains a weekly blog ( and shares writing tips, advice, news, and whatever else pops into her head.

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for the winner's choice of one of Kelli's 2011 releases.

Extra links for Kelli:
Twitter: @KWilkinsauthor
Amber Quill Press Author Page:

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Nicole Morgan

‘Tis the Season …

Every year Christmas comes around and lights twinkle while festive decorations are everywhere you can look. You’d be hard pressed to not find a gas station that has tiny stockings hanging from the registers. Let’s face it, we all love Christmas. We love decorating and spreading the holiday cheer. Right? Surely we all run around with our Donna Reed aprons in our perfect home on Maple Street while the house fills our noses with delightful scents of freshly baked Christmas cookies. The presents we picked out for our loved ones (months in advance because we do not procrastinate) are wrapped with the prettiest of bows and paper and placed under the tree. As a matter of fact, everything is so perfect you can’t help but wonder why Normal Rockwell never chose your home for some of his famous portraits which signified America at its finest.

Doesn’t that all sound wonderful? The truth of the matter is, the above paragraph is so far from reality in my yuletide world. See, I don’t live on Maple Street; my address is closer to Chaos Lane. Just to prove it, I’ll give you a glimpse into what my holidays usually entail.

Now, let’s talk Turkey. Or more specifically the sales after Turkey Day. See, I don’t buy my gifts ahead of time. I usually will begin after Thanksgiving in the mad dash of Black Friday, and try to follow it up with more deals on Cyber Monday. The truth is, things are so expensive these days that some of the sales the weekend following Thanksgiving are the best time to buy. Then once I have the presents I do the responsible thing and wrap them all right away. Okay, so that’s not true. They go in the closet and I’ll start on them first thing in the morning. At least that’s what I tell myself, but invariably this isn’t the case as daily life almost always interferes.

Now it’s time for baking. I don’t have a pretty apron, nor is my hair and make-up done perfectly as I traipse around the kitchen in my high heels as I roll out sugar cookie dough. I’m more likely to be seen wearing a t-shirt and a pair of athletic pants. My hair will be up in a pony tail, or at least most of it anyway and you can bet dollars to donuts that I will have flour and other remnants of baking on my nose, chin and countless other places they don’t belong. Of course during this time, the dog will undoubtedly have drug some dirt in the house. While I chase him with a towel and try to dry off his paws, slightly muddy from the damp ground after the snow melts I forget about everything else. I would ask the kids for help, but of course they’re probably arguing about something and wouldn’t hear me anyway. This will distract me from the cookies in the oven until they are coated with a nice black bottom.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve and you’ll probably find me staying up late to finish wrapping those last few gifts that I swore to myself I was going to wrap weeks earlier. I’ll most likely go to bed exhausted as I finish picking up the house for the guests who will be arriving the next day because no matter how much I plan, between writing, emails, social networking and the myriad of daily life activities that eat away at my time there is just so much to be done in the holiday season. You would think with the craziness of my month I would be pulling my hair out and vow to never give so much a go again, but you’d be wrong. Despite all the craziness one thing remains true. The holidays are about family, friends and all the joy that comes with that. Whether my cookies are baked to perfection or they’re burnt to the crisp, whether my home looks perfect or a disaster I wouldn’t trade the gift of spending holidays with those I love for anything in the world.

Do you have a Christmas that went awry? One that while it backfired you were still able to smile and realize that at the end of the day you spent your holiday with those you love and that is all that really matters? Leave me a comment below and tell me your story. And since this is the season of giving, the more comments I receive the more chances you have to win.

1-10 comments -1 winner
11-20 comments -2 winners
21-30 comments-3 winners

And so on. Winners will be able to choose any of my current releases in eBook format. One eBook per winner.

Happy Holidays ~ Nicole Morgan

BECK & CALL by Nicole Morgan

All Jenny wanted was to run her resort hotel without the constant interference from her boss. All Beck wanted, was her.

Jenny Somers is the General Manager at a resort hotel in the beautiful Caribbean. She loves her job, but she hates her boss. Constantly cutting corners to meet budget constraints she finds herself doing handyman work just to keep the hotel running.

Beck is a drifter who comes to Jenny’s rescue during a plumbing emergency at the hotel. He is arrogant, cocky and absolutely everything that Jenny despises in a man of his type.

Together Jenny and Beck find out just how real the term “opposites attract” is, and along the way find something they weren’t quite expecting along the way.


"...aching underneath the zipper of his jeans. She was sleeping so peacefully, but the need to touch her, taste her, tease her and please her was much more urgent. He undid the snap and zipper of his jeans and slipped them to the ground. His T-shirt soon followed, making a mound of clothes on the floor. Standing there for a minute he listened to the tiny little noises she made with every breath. Smiling, he thought she sounded like a kitten purring."

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Lucy Felthouse

Books, Kindles and People Watching

When I heard about the 'Stuff Your Stockings With Books' event, I knew exactly what I wanted to blog about. Books, of course! And what could be more fitting? A book lover chatting to a bunch of other lovely book lovers.

So, it's holiday season. And what does that mean? Aside from the religious elements, and the spending time with family, of course. It means there are lots of new books floating around and for me, plenty of time to read them! This Christmas I'll be abroad on holiday, back just in time for New Year, which is when I'll catch up with my family. So being away means I get to spend some quality time with my Kindle. The laptop is staying at home, so no work for me. Just lots and lots of reading... and probably some writing, or at least scribbling down of ideas. Well, you can't expect a writer to go anywhere without a notebook, can you?

As much as I love reading, I'll have to do something else while I'm away, though. No problem! Something else I love doing, regardless of the time of year or where I am, is people watching. And what better a place to people watch than a foreign country where many people behave differently because nobody knows them. Add in some alcohol and festive cheer and you have a recipe for some very interesting sights. Not only will that be thoroughly entertaining, but you never know when creative inspiration will strike.

And voila! We've come full circle. From reading books to taking a break and people watching, there's a damn good chance that said people watching will end up in one of my books. Not ad verbatim of course, because that could potentially be very dull. But such is the life of a writer... nothing is safe! Inspiration comes from everywhere, and hopefully lots of writers (including myself) will find some excellent inspiration this holiday season, which may well give you some fabulous books to read next holiday season.

And what more could any book lover ask for, but more books?! Happy Holidays!


Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story - so she did. It went down a storm and she's never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, Noble Romance, Ravenous Romance, Summerhouse Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour and Seducing the Myth. Find out more at You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.



Will a weekend in a luxury hotel make Annette’s deepest fantasies come true?

When Jed and Annette spend a weekend in a luxury hotel, they’re planning to take full advantage of the hot tub and large bed – preferably with a third party. Annette’s never been with another woman before, but she’s eager to experience some Sapphic delight. When the couple meets waitress Tamara at the restaurant they’re lunching at, they agree she’s perfect in many ways; but is she on the menu?

Excerpt & buy links:

Want to stuff your stockings with some hot threesome action that was indeed inspired by my people watching habits? Then look no further! Just leave a comment on this post with your email address telling me why you'd like to win, and you could be in with a chance of winning a PDF copy of A Menu with a Difference. Good luck!

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Louisa Bacio

A Naughty New Year’s Eve
By Louisa Bacio

Expectations for New Year’s Eve run high. Come on, confess: What would be your New Year’s fantasy? A delightful party, complete with gourmet food (where you never feel too stuffed or have an allergy); dancing (where you can wear any shoes you want and they will never hurt); the perfect balance of alcohol (where you feel fantastic but there’s no threat of hangover) and – admit it: Amazing sex!

Yes, you know it’s true. We want to stuff ourselves, dance until we’re wiped out, partake in “spirits,” and then have a wild romp.

It’s the perfect happy ending to round out the year, and start the new one with a bang. Literally.

So what goes wrong?

In my dating history, one of my worst dates ever happened to be New Year’s Eve. I was supposed to be attending a bash with my then boyfriend. And you know what the louse did? He came to pick me up, broke up with me and then still expected me to attend the party with him! Oh, no. Instead, I stayed home in an empty apartment, and had a pity party. When midnight hit, the sounds of people celebrating throughout the complex filtered into my room, and I lay in bed crying. (Moral: Don’t ditch your date before the party.)

Sob! So many years ago, and I still remember it! (That’s drama trauma.) Thinking back, I should have gone bad and hooked up with someone else.

But, I’ve had some pretty damn good ones, too. The good ones include a night in a hotel room (isn’t messing up the cool sheets away from home the best?), where it’s not necessary to make a long drive home before hitting the bed.

And, I’m sorry to say it, but you gotta watch those rich New Year’s Eve foods. The buffets serve a smorgasbord of delights that can have their own bash in your tummy. There are always plenty of shrimp cocktail, mini quiches, veggie-stuffed triangles, and dessert. Sigh: Mini cheesecakes! Let’s face it, though, do you want to eat or get frisky? Usually, you can’t do both.

Tell me: Good or bad, what’s your New Year’s Eve story, and what’s your recipe for the perfect night? (Are you willing to share your fantasy?) One lucky commenter will win their choice of an electronic copy of a book from my backlist.


Louisa Bacio writes erotic romance, many of which delve into the paranormal realm. Her fourth full-length novel The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf 2: Chains of Silver recently was released via Ravenous Romance. She also collects anthologies of vampire fiction. In addition to writing, Bacio enjoys spending time with her family, and teaches college English, writing and popular culture.

Find Louisa online

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Zenobia Renquist

My husband is Air Force and he recently (as of August 2011) got stationed in Hawaii (Hickam AFB to be exact). I arrived in October after attending some conventions and dealing with some last minute things with our house.

Ahhh… Christmas in Hawaii. The leaves turning colors. The snow falling. That chill in the air that makes you want to cuddle up with your honey near a fire. Uh yeah. NOT. I said Christmas in HAWAII. The highs are 81-84 degrees F and the lows are 75-71 degrees. Anyone cuddling up with their honey by a fire is probably barbecuing something over a pit.

It's been a little hard for the hubby and I to get in the holiday mood (both of us being from the East coast) when it's spring/summer weather. But that's a small price to pay to get away from the snow and cold. After snowmageddon (I was in MD when that happened), we're both sick of snow. Besides, there's Christmas music in every shop and holiday decorations… hmmm. Well, there's Christmas music and people can buy holiday decorations. I haven't seen many houses sporting lights.

This year the extended family shall enjoy Christmas presents Hawaiian-style, which means someone is getting a surfing Santa shirt. If I could box up this wonderful weather (even if it is the rainy season), I would send that too. The best I can do is send out a mele kalikimaka to one and all.

While I don't have one book that covers Christmas in Hawaii, I do have one book about Christmas and one book set in Hawaii.

Stripping Christmas is my contribution to the Changeling Press White Hot Christmas multi-author series and contest. The contest is for free books for a year and all you have to do to enter is buy one (or all of the) White Hot Christmas titles. Full details available here:


Alex is firmly on the naughty list, and she wants Santa to join her.

Alex thought she was going to a job. Instead she ends up marrying the heir to the title of Santa Claus. The vows have been said and cannot be taken back, even if Alex isn't the ideal bride Kris was hoping for to re-energize the powers of the House of Kringle. But Alex is about to teach him that being a little naughty -- or a lot -- can go a long way.

(Erotic, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Christmas, Interracial, Elves/Fey, Magic)

Buy Now:

Read Excerpt:

Read first full chapter online:

And then there is my set in Hawaii story LOVE REVERSED (out today).

It's only an even swap when both parties are satisfied.

Cinnamon came to the Hawaii celebrity retreat to meet her favorite actress. Calhoun crashed to find answers about his missing uncle. Neither of them signed on for the part of the tour that included body swapping. They have to find a way to switch back without anyone realizing their predicament. Long nights of searching for answers become even longer when curiosity takes over. It's a once in a lifetime chance to see how the other half loves, and they don't plan to let it slip away.

(Erotic, Paranormal/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense, Interracial, Magic)

Buy Link:


Cinnamon found herself staring at Calhoun's broad back rather than his tattoos. Her gaze dipped low, and a slow smile curved her lips. She glanced at the door quickly and then back at the mirror.

Did she dare?

Why not? Calhoun had probably gotten an eyeful of her body. She should do the same to his. It was only fair.

She undid the pants zipper, revealing navy boxer briefs. A good choice -- both the color and the style -- but not what she wanted to see. She eased Calhoun's dick into the open. Before her eyes, it grew longer and turned rigid.

She rubbed a single finger over it, making the erection harden more and her balls ache -- a very interesting sensation that had her reaching in her pants so she could shift them around and relieve it somehow.

“Lady, you've got some nerve.”

Cinnamon jerked her hands above her head and faced Calhoun. “I… this… I wasn't -- ”

“Yes, you were.” He had her lips curved into a sardonic grin. “Feel good?”

Her whole face heated up.

Calhoun looked down. “Now what were you doing that got me all hard like that?”


“I stopped getting excited over nothing in high school.”

“Well you just restarted,” she snapped, trying to stuff her dick back into her pants.

Calhoun grabbed her hands. “Stop before you do something that'll hurt.” He laughed a little under his breath. “I'm just playing with you, Cinnamon. I figured you'd be curious.” He released her so he could run his hand over her dick.

She breathed in quickly and stood straighter.

“Want me to show you if the grass is greener?”

Zenobia Renquist will be giving away a PDF copy of LOVE REVERSED to one person who comments.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Tim Smith

“Have We Got a Christmas Surprise For You!”

By Tim Smith

Once upon a time, a young man and woman decided to embark on the kind of lifelong adventure only two soul mates could undertake. They were wed one week before Christmas then began a magical journey, full of wonder and excitement. When they returned home to enjoy their first holiday as husband and wife, trouble lurked on the horizon.

Okay, maybe it didn’t happen quite that way, but I’m allowed some poetic license since this is my life I’m writing about. There is some truth to the above – I was married for the first time a week before Christmas to someone I truly believed would be mine forever. I wish I’d known she didn’t feel the same, but I’ll save that for another blog.

After a wonderful church wedding attended by family and friends that neither of us knew existed, we left for our honeymoon. The plan was to return on December 23 to my small apartment (not very roomy, but it had a double bed and that seemed to be all we cared about). Before leaving I had agreed to let the building maintenance people repaint my apartment and do some other minor repairs. I also made certain they knew when we would be returning and they assured me that all the work would be done.

When we arrived home a week later I unlocked the door to my flat then stood dumbfounded. The furniture had been moved to the center of the room and was covered by a paint-stained tarp. This avant-garde motif was offset by drop cloths, paint cans, brushes and rollers, and a couple of ladders. I was stunned.

I regained my senses and marched to the apartment of the onsite manager, a mealy-mouthed jerk with a lie to fit any occasion. After some blustering and fist pounding on my part (don’t you love it when young guys in love think they have to play Macho Man to impress their girls?), Mr. Mealy-mouth flashed a Cheshire Cat grin and said he would be glad to put us up in one of the vacant apartments. “No,” I thundered. “That isn’t good enough!” I told him that the leasing company would foot the bill for a room at one of the nicer motels in town and we would settle this in the morning when the head maintenance guy staggered in to work.

We checked into the motel then went in search of a late supper. As we sat in a booth at Big Boy, I stared at the nearly deserted city street and felt crushed. After a week spent reveling in each other’s passions and looking forward to spending our first holiday together, I was upset by this turn of events. My young bride tried her best to pick up my spirits, reassuring me that in spite of this setback, we still had each other and that was all that mattered. She convinced me that somehow we’d make the best of it.

The following morning we returned to the scene of the crime and worked out a compromise. The maintenance honcho agreed to get a good portion of the work completed by the end of the day and I agreed not to sue the pants off the owners. I’ve often wondered if the fact that I kept reminding him that my brother was an attorney had anything to do with it.

We stayed in our new home that night while stepping around some presents the painters had left for us. Christmas morning arrived and we exchanged gifts in front of a small artificial tree that probably would’ve embarrassed Charlie Brown. My wife prepared a makeshift feast from items we’d scrounged from bare grocery store shelves the day before, but to me it was the best meal I’d ever had. We enjoyed our first Christmas together with a couple of bottles of wine, watched a few holiday movies on my small black-and-white portable TV then sat quietly, holding each other. I mentally recapped the whirlwind events of the previous days and a revelation came over me.

I gazed into her soft baby blues and told her how lucky I felt to have shared that experience with her. I also agreed with what she had said the night before – as long as we were together, a hunting shack in the woods would have been like paradise to me.

And so they lived happily ever after, until the young woman fell in love with a dashing doctor at the hospital where she worked and her not-quite-ready-to-settle-down husband began chasing a cute blonde from the office - but that’s another fairy tale.

* * * *

Tim Smith is an award-winning author of numerous books, ranging from romantic adventures to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. His latest Extasy Books release is the romantic thriller Memories Die Last. More information about his books and photography can be found at his website,

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a download of The Sweet Distraction.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Sable Hunter

Christmas Blog

Christmas is a magical time. I love everything about it. Especially the days leading up to Christmas. Anticipation is my big thing. I love to bake and plan and wrap and decorate. Actually, by the time Christmas Day is here – I’m about through with it. I guess I tucker myself out.

At my house we decorate loudly. I don’t mean we carol while we deck the halls – I mean we have bright decorations. I have a collection of Santas and a collection of Snowmen – big and little. And on our tree and on the porch and roof, we use multi-colored lights – none of that cold, austere – all white for us. I have given my family the choice – cause we have gone to a pre-lit tree – but they want the lights that are green and red and blue and yellow and pink. It’s magical – that’s what it is. Magical.

When I was growing up, we actually went out and cut down our own Christmas tree. It would either be a cedar or a pine – and they were never perfectly shaped.
Charlie Brown didn’t have the corner on scraggly, misshapen trees.

My dad raised cattle and he would pretend that he saw the reindeer eating some of our hay and although we didn’t have snow – he would bring in fruit that he swore had been found on the porch and it would be dusted with fine white powder.

I can remember the first year that I found the presents from Santa in our hall closet before Christmas. I wasn’t really surprised, but I was disappointed. I wanted to believe. I still do. I want to believe in magic.

That’s why I write about it. I have a series called Moon Magick and I have two books that have been released by Secret Cravings in this series. The first, A Wishing Moon, takes place at Christmas – complete with a Christmas miracle. The heroines practice New Orleans hoodoo – but they still respect and honor the magic and miracle of Christmas. I am from New Orleans and the natural and the supernatural and the Christian and the respectors of nature all live side by side – most of the time in perfect harmony. We always decorated our homes – not only for Christmas – but also for Mardi Gras – so from Halloween to the middle of March – it was one big party at our house. Now that’s what I call extending the Holiday Season.

I wish you well this holiday season. I hope you are safe and happy. And I hope that you get everything you want for Christmas. But most of all I hope that the magic of Christmas doesn’t pass you by. Because the true magic is that we are to love one another. There is no greater time to show love than that magical part of the year when we suspend belief – watch for flying reindeer – and open our hearts to give to one another, gifts of joy and peace. Merry Christmas – from Sable.

My newest release – Sweet Evangeline, the second in my Moon Magick series-is out from Secret Cravings. Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a download of Sweet Evangeline and A Wishing Moon.

Evangeline is magical. She longs to find her soulmate - and being a woman of power - she whips up a spell and conjures him up. Austin Firefighter Eric McCallister is enchanted by the beautiful woman who sculpted his likeness from a dream. Immediately, their attraction and chemistry burns like a wildfire. But, all is not a fairy-tale. An arsonist is stalking Eric and someone is trying to kill Evangeline. On top of that, there's magick afoot that can call down storms, bring the dead back to life and break ancient curses. But, the greatest magick of all is the love Eric has for Sweet Evangeline.

Thank you for reading -

Sable Hunter
Please visit my website at

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Mary Hughes

Sparkling Possibilities

As a musician I’m gigging from mid-November to December 25, so my favorite holiday is the only one I can stop to enjoy—New Years.

But there’s more to New Years than that! It’s the cusp of new beginnings, a time when possibilities sparkle. A breath of fresh air, a clean start, clearing away old mistakes and regrets and stepping into new hope. I love beginnings. That’s why my stories feature the first meet. Here’s a short sample from Biting Me Softly with vampire Logan and computer geek Liese.

When I first clapped eyes on Logan, I thought, Hot damn. Look what the Sex Fairy brung me!

It was eight p.m. Sunday night, and I was at work. I do computers for the Meiers Corners Blood Center. The staff is me, the executive director and a part-time nurse named Battle. I was the only one who worked insane hours, but I was new and still trying to prove myself.

I don’t know what made me look up. The cool March air, perhaps. Maybe the aroma wafting in, mystery and magic with overtones of raw sex.

Whatever it was, my eyes lifted and there he was, the most stunning male I’d ever seen. Smack-me-between-the-eyes gorgeous. Bright blond hair rippled to broad, muscular shoulders. Lean strength roped a long, lithe body. Laughter and intelligence sparked gold-flecked hazel eyes. Perfect lips curved in a smile so sensuous it made my innards go bang.

Then he opened his mouth and spoke. Talk about ruining perfection.

“Hello, gorgeous.” His tone was deep and lazy. “I want to speak to the computer man in charge.”

Right. Well that just spoiled everything, didn’t it?

I crossed my arms under my breasts. “You’re looking at him. I’m the head apple. Minus the stem, but those are overrated anyway.”

My sarcasm didn’t even faze the man. He tucked one spectacular ass cheek on my desk and leaned in, so close I could feel his warmth on my face. “You’re L. Schmetterling? How…fruitful. And what, my Red Delicious, does the L stand for? Laurie? Lucy? Lovely?”

All that male beauty and a tight ass on top of it. I’d been burned once by a man with a flabby butt and no hair. This man would incinerate me.

I clutched the reminder of male perfidy on my ring finger and screwed up my most forbidding expression. “It stands for Leave. As in Me Alone.”

“I live to do your bidding, princess,” the man crooned, his lips inches from mine. He had perfect, chiseled lips—the kind designed by Michelangelo for kissing. “But if you’re L. Schmetterling, I can’t leave. I have business with you.”


Mary Hughes is a computer consultant, professional musician, and writer. At various points in her life she has taught Taekwondo, worked in the insurance industry, and studied religion. She is intensely interested in the origins of the universe. She has a wonderful husband (though happily-ever-after takes a lot of hard work) and two great kids. But she thinks that with all the advances in modern medicine, childbirth should be a lot less messy.

To learn more about Mary Hughes, please visit--

Twitter: MaryHughesBooks

I'll be giving away winner's choice of one Biting Love ebook: novels Bite My Fire, Biting Nixie, or Biting Me Softly, or novella The Bite of Silence, so leave a comment!

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Tara Nina

The Truest Gift
by Tara Nina

I’ve come to realize that the truest gift is time. In this fast-paced world we have little to no time. Twenty-four hours in the day seems to slip by without much thought as to where it went. If you actually sit and consider the concept of time, we have one hundred sixty-eight hours a week, twenty-one thousand twenty-four hours in a year and we still don’t have enough time.

The reason I discuss this issue with time, for the first Christmas in twenty years, my son will not be home for the holidays. It is with great pride and a heavy heart I have to accept the fact he has chosen a dangerous path in life. By the time you read this, my son will have left for boot camp. He joined the Navy and has been selected to train for the SEALS program. For the past year, he has already been training in a SEALS pre-boot camp program here in New Jersey. He is in the best shape of his young life, but still the training he has yet to face will be strenuous and test both his physical and mental strengths and abilities.

I worry that I have not done enough to prepare him for the events he may face. As parents, we did our best to teach him right from wrong. We were there each time he stumbled. We tended to his needs and gave him the most valuable things we could provide—love, guidance, and a sense of honor and respect. But was it enough to help him in this next chapter of his life?

I believe our lives are giant books. The beginning starts at the first chapter, birth. We enjoy the childhood years, learning and growing. We struggle through the teenage years, which provide our chapters with angst, and some ridiculous fodder to sit back and laugh at when we are older. Each phase toward adulthood, each plot twist builds the story of our lives until we reach those dreaded two words, the end. What we choose to do with our lives is up to each of us. It can be a grand adventure or a sad tale, but it all boils down to that fleeting aspect of time.
You see, I blinked and my son grew up.

I sit here thinking of all the holidays I had with him. The wonderful memories of watching him grow and I can only hope he has the right stuff to reach the goal he has set. Time is a precious commodity. It has no monetary value, no price you can attach to it because it is priceless. It is the one thing in life you can’t take back.

The holidays tend to make most of us a bit melancholy and his leaving at this time of the year is not easy for me. Who am I kidding? His leaving at any time of the year would not be easy for me. He is my first-born and I will miss him as he journeys into this new, adventure-filled chapter in his life. I can only hope that his time here at home will be a treasured memory he takes with him that will help him succeed in his future.

The greatest gift anyone can give is the gift of time. Use this holiday season to reach out to friends, family and loved-ones to gather them together and share a few hours of that sacred commodity of time. It slips past so fast that in a blink of an eye the kids are grown and you sit there wondering where did the time go.

In the spirit of the holidays, please don’t forget to reach out to those who serve to protect our great country. Remember the wonderful people in the military. It doesn’t take much effort to say thank you. Over the years, I’ve been sending care packages to different service personal around the world. If you’d like to send a care package to someone in the military, please contact Kim Adams at She will gladly provide you with an address of a deserving individual, who’d love to hear from you.

During this holiday season, take a moment of time and enjoy the peace and love of family. Please share with me a fond holiday memory and I’ll enter you for a chance to win a signed copy of either Cursed Laird or Double Dilemma. I will be choosing three winners at random.

Tara Nina

Hot Romance~Sexy Attitude best describes Tara Nina’s writing style. She creates for Ellora’s Cave, The Wild Rose Press and Highland Press in sensuality ranges from steamy hot to simmering sweet, which includes paranormals, contemporaries or romantic suspense. She is a Southerner living in the northern wilds of New Jersey complete with grown children, pets and a mountain man for a husband.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Berengaria Brown

It was very hot. Probably 100 degrees and not even 8 a.m. yet.

All up and down the street by the beach, the kids were playing with their new toys, watching and waiting for the fire truck. The fire truck that would bring Santa, and more wonderful gifts.

They wobbled up and down the street on their new bikes, their new inline skates, their new scooters, many watched by doting Dads who sat in lawn chairs, an ice-cold beer in their hand.

As soon as the fire truck’s siren sounded the men grabbed their kids off the road, and women and teenagers came out from the beach holiday cottages, the teens with new computer games in their hands, or music throbbing their ear buds. The women with babies or toddlers on their hips, or hastily wiping cooking ingredients from their hands.

The fire truck turned into the street, its siren screaming, but traveling at walking pace. On the back of the truck was Santa, his face sweating in his hot red suit, throwing candy and a gift to every child. Two firemen, in uniform, walked behind the truck handing out little packets of candy and presents to the mothers of small children.

No child was overlooked. Every one had a special nod or smile from The Man himself.

And the joy in their eyes was more than adequate repayment for giving up a holiday to swelter in a hot costume, instead of sitting on the beach and hoping for a cooling breeze off the ocean.

It was such a different sight and experience from snow, and a hot fire, and kids with new toboggans or indoor games. But the Christmas spirit was identical. Peace on earth, and good will to all people everywhere.

Berengaria Brown Bio:

Berengaria is a multi-published author of erotic romance: contemporary, paranormal (ghosts, vampires, fairies and werewolves) and Regency-set historical. She loves to read all different kinds of romance so that is what she writes: one man/one woman; two women; two men; two men/one woman; three men, two women/one man…. Whatever the characters need for their very hot happily-ever-after, Berengaria makes sure they get it.

Berengaria Brown

“Santa Baby” blurb:

Jaid hates the annual family Christmas party, a huge event with people she doesn’t recognize or like. She's hot and horny and looking for action on the holidays.

But this year things look brighter. Her second cousin, Greg, and his partner, Steve, invite her to spend time with them. Two sexy Santas for Jaid? Oh Santa baby!


Jaid ran a finger along her lips, checking she wasn’t drooling. Cousin Greg was a fraction over six feet tall, with thick, collar-length blond hair that had her aching to run her fingers through it. She just bet it was as soft and silky as it looked. His eyes were deep blue, and any time she looked into them, her panties creamed, and she almost drowned with desire to get up close and personal with him. She wanted to lick her way across his muscular chest, feel him wrap those strong arms around her, and drive his cock up hard and high inside her.

Steve’s slightly rough image was the perfect foil for Greg’s fair good looks. Steve had black hair and eyes so dark they might be black too. He was wearing a tight black t-shirt that showed off the heavy muscles in his tanned arms. He made her think about doing dirty, naughty things with a bad, bad, biker boy. His features were not quite symmetrical but in a very sexy way, enhancing the bad-boy aura, and she was almost certain it was the edge of a tattoo she could see just at the sleeve of his t-shirt.

Greg and Steve in her bed would be the perfect Christmas gift. Hell, even up against a wall would do!


Berengaria Brown is giving away one eBook of the winner's choice from her backlist to one lucky commenter.
A Summer Christmas by Berengaria Brown

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Erin O'Riordan

Eight Tasty Nights

Have a tasty Hanukkah! The festival of lights is not only a bright spot in winter's dreariest month, but it's also a taste sensation! From chocolate gelt to sugared jelly donuts to the potato pancake, perhaps no winter holiday in world culture tastes quite as good as Hanukkah.

These 8 items in terrifically good taste are on my wishlist for Hanukkah gift-giving. (FYI, I have no stake in promoting any of these things; I simply like them.) Some, though not all, of these foods are kosher.

1.'s Organic Hot Chocolate

2. Safi Coffee - Fair Trade Coffee that benefits small farmers in Kenya

3. Negev Nectars' pure, organic honey in exotic flavors

4. Mouth-watering Vodka Pasta Sauce from Picklelicious

5. Over-21 lovers of Italian wines might also enjoy this Red Muscat by Mony Sunny Hills, an Israeli wine

6. Glenny's has mastered the art of "good-for-you junk food," as in this Cranberry Almond Bar

7. Ethical Ocean Fair-Trade Madagascar Chocolate

8. If you love hot drinks, you might like Spiced Cider & Hot Toddy Mixes

Hungry yet? Grab your favorite holiday treat. Of course, you'll need something to curl up with and read while you're enjoying delicious holiday treats, whatever it is you enjoy.

The Book Blurb:
Dig in to a delectable winter treat, as warm as a potato pancake on a frosty Hanukkah night!

Caught up in the magic of the Festival of Lights, Gabriella wants everything to be perfect for her holiday with Jared. Jared has very specific tastes-and a slight obsession with teasing the individual flavors out of the aromas of fine wines. Even the kosher wine he chooses for the first night of Hanukkah is subjected to his beloved wine aroma wheel.

But wine is not the only thing that can be tasted, analyzed, and savored. Gabriella and Jared discover new uses for Jared's favorite toy as the Hanukkah candles burn down...

The Giveaway: I'm giving away a .pdf of "Spicy, Earthy, Sweet" to four readers 18 years of age or older. Since this is an e-book, the winners can be located anywhere in the world.

Read "Spicy, Earthy, Sweet" by Erin O'Riordan at Ravenous Romance

About the Author: Erin O'Riordan, despite what her Irish name may lead you to believe, is of mixed Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Pagan descent. Following the philosophy of Joan Borysenko, she proudly embraces all of her diverse spiritual heritage. Her spiritual-sexual writings include the Pagan-ritual-inspired erotic novel Beltane, from Eternal Press.

Book blog:

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Margaret Riley

This has been my year for revisiting favorite recipes with a low carb twist -- just popped this out of the oven made with Splenda and Almond Meal. Yummm!!! (Subbed 1 cup of milk for the Captain Morgan's in the cake, because Almond Meal is thirsty! And added all the rum to the glaze, which I doubled this year, also made with Splenda.)

Captain Morgan’s Spiced Butter Rum Pound Cake
1 & 1/2 cup chopped nuts (Pecans, Almonds, or Walnuts)
1 & 1/2 cup raisins, cranberries, or other dried fruits
Cover dried fruit in boiling water, let stand 5 minutes or until plump, drain.

Dry Mix:
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1 pkg vanilla pudding mix
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Mix:
1 & 2/3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle half the nuts over the bottom of pan.

Mix together dry ingredients in a hand mixing bowl.

Cream together sugar and butter, then stir in the dark rum in a large mixer bowl; beat on low while adding eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add remaining nuts and raisins (drained). Mix thoroughly.

Gradually add in dry mix. Continue beating on medium for 2 to 3 minutes.

Bake for 55 minutes at 325°F or until done. Remove cake from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife along edges of pan if necessary, to free the cake from the sides. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 pound butter (Margarine contains too much water!)
1/4 cup Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum

Melt butter in saucepan. Add water and sugar, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool slightly and then stir in rum. Set the cake in something like a large pie pan and drizzle glaze over cake. Soak cake thoroughly, adding a small amount at a time. Dust finished cake with confectioners sugar so it looks like a light snowfall.

Best served chilled the next day -- the rum needs to soak in!

Margaret Riley

Changeling Press is giving away the winner's choice of an eBook from their house to three winners who comment on this post.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Naomi Bellini

A Change for the Better; Creating New Traditions for Peace of Mind and Spirit

Breathe a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back. Christmas is done, you made it through Thanksgiving if you live in the United States, the Holiday Madness is over. It's time for life to get back to normal. But wait! Don't get too comfortable, there is more insanity looming on the horizon…New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Though these two celebrations don’t have the stressors of their more popular counterparts, they come with their own pressures.

For many, New Year's Eve is celebrated by dressing up and going out for dinner and drinks. Women are expected to be sparkling and sexy, witty and fun. Unfortunately, this holiday comes so soon after Christmas, many of us have lost our wit and sparkle and don’t expect to have them back any time soon. In fact, we're downright depressed. We can't fit into our party dress and don't have the money or energy to shop for a new one. It's dark and cold, bad weather threatens daily. We're drained, worn-out, and really just want to curl up with a book and a bottle of wine and welcome the New Year from under a blanket.

Yet somehow, we drag ourselves through a New Year's celebration, and what do we find lurking around the corner? Valentine's Day! Another holiday that requires us to put on the glitz and shine. We now have to shop for sexy lingerie that requires an excessive amount of hair removal, assure our loved one that we really don't want a gift (yes, we really do!), and get in the mood for yet another fancy dinner, when the wine bottle and blanket are beckoning.

But really, is all the primping and polishing necessary? Ask many men and women and they will tell you they find their partner the most sexy and desirable when they tumble into bed at night, wobble out of bed in the morning, or step out of a steamy shower, wearing nothing but a towel. No make-up, no fancy dress, no uncomfortable pantyhose, just delicious bare skin.

Maybe this year would be a good year to scale back on the dress-up and celebration. We could just say no to those invitations and not feel guilty, or worry that we are missing out on something. It's perfectly okay to not celebrate a holiday the way we always have if it seems the old customs aren't working anymore. Change is good. This might be the year to start a new tradition, like enjoying the company of our loved ones in a quiet, cozy place. Perhaps, under the blanket.

About the Author:Naomi lives in beautiful sunny Florida with the love of her life and a magical black cat. She writes for various fiction and non-fiction markets, but finds she is drawn to erotic romance because her characters insist on canoodling, and sometimes even falling madly in love. So she lets them. Occasionally, however, they go to dark and strange places. She lets them do this also. Most of her stories will surprise readers with unexpected twists and turns, because isn't that what makes life exciting?

Her interests include dancing, hula-hooping, drumming, and creating healthy meals. She takes the opportunity to play, have fun, and indulge in the pursuit of passion whenever possible. She hopes you enjoy her stories and would love to hear from you at naomibellina(at)live(dot)com. Visit her website at

Her motto: Never pass up the opportunity to have an adventure!

Naomi will be giving away a GC from Amazon for her book Miranda's Travels. Leave a comment to be entered.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Lena Austin

How To Have a Stress-Free Holiday Tradition

There are simple, easy things to do to avoid stress now, and in the future, while creating an heirloom to be passed down. Stop depending on your memory. Your brain won't be around after you're gone.

Take one ring binder with paper, a few page protectors, one ring binder zipper pocket, and a small clasp envelope. Now, as your holiday progresses, write down your memory aids in the binder, stick the recipes in the page protectors, and your receipts in the clasp envelope.

Some examples are: 1) a copy of your holiday card list, 2) your family traditions like lighting a bayberry candle or driving around town looking at decorated homes, 3) your gift list, and 4) all those family recipes, even the ones in your cookbooks. Keep a pen in the zipper pocket, and even your gift cards if you use them in place of money can be put in the pocket as well.

Your holiday binder doesn't have to be perfect. The goal is to save information. It took me three years to find all the recipes, and make photocopies. I enlarged one of the recipes off the back of a can of sweet potatoes that was fading and becoming difficult to read. I saved myself the horrible stress of digging through my entire cookbook collection and whimpering, "Where is it? Where is it?"

I now have six years of stress-free holidays under my belt. I kept the menu lists, and it brings a smile to my face to remember laughing in the kitchen with my daughters, slapping masculine hands attempting a quick taste-test, and the locations of where certain decorations work best.

Best of all, I now have an heirloom that's easily shared with all three of my daughters and grandchildren.

Lena Austin

I'll be giving away any ebook from my backlist or my latest ebook release, Protect and Serve: Don't Need A Hero-- Winner's choice. Just leave a comment and let me know which you would rather have.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Sapphire Phelan

Mistletoe is More than for Kissing Under!

Kissing under the mistletoe is more than just a chance to get your honey to kiss you. It is also symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation that will occur in spring. More so than any other of the Christmas evergreens, it is a plant of which we are conscious only during the holidays. Mistletoe has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb. It may also possess abortifacient qualities, which would help explain its association with uninhibited sexuality.

Kissing under the mistletoe got its start in Celtic rituals and Norse mythology. In Gaul, the Druids considered it a sacred plant. It was believed to have medicinal qualities and mysterious supernatural powers. After preparing for a sacrifice and a feast under the oak, they hail the mistletoe as a cure-all, bringing two white bulls with horns that have never been bound before. A priest dressed in a white robe climbs the oak and with a golden sickle cuts the mistletoe,. It is caught in a white cloak. After sacrificing the victims, they ask the god to make the mistletoe propitious for them. There was belief that a potion prepared from it will make sterile animals fertile and that kit was an antidote for any poison.

Mistletoe and the kissing are traced back to ancient Scandinavia. It was also the plant of peace there. If enemies met by chance beneath it in a forest, they laid down their arms and maintained a truce until the next day. This ancient Scandinavian custom led to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.

But this tradition went hand-in-hand with the myth of Baldur. Baldur's mother was the Norse goddess, Frigga. When he was born, Frigga made every plant, animal and inanimate object to promise not to harm Baldur. But the goddess overlooked the mistletoe. Loki took advantage of this oversight and tricked one of the other gods into killing Baldur with a spear fashioned from mistletoe. The demise of Baldur, a vegetation deity in the Norse myths, brought winter into the world, although the gods did eventually restored Baldur to life. Frigga pronounced the mistletoe sacred, ordering that it should bring love rather than death into the world.

Sapphire Phelan

Dark heroes and heroines with bite...sink your teeth into a romance by Sapphire Phelan today.

Sapphire Phelan is giving away to one lucky commenter a download of her latest release, A Familiar Tangle With Hell, which is set during New Year’s Eve.

Tell her what you think about kissing under the mistletoe. Also leave an email so she can contact the winner.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Mardi Ballou

Feliz Navidad!
by Mardi Ballou

Before becoming the title of a very upbeat song by Jose Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad” inspired smiles of joy as the traditional Spanish equivalent of the English Merry Christmas. The greeting expressed by Spanish speakers on several continents rings out across many time zones during this festive time.

When we can take a moment to sit and chill during this hectic time, isn’t it fun to explore some of the different ways Christmas is celebrated around the world? I really got into researching Christmas in Spain for my contemporary Christmas ménage novella from Ellora’s Cave called Sherry Amor—and can’t wait to write another Christmas story set in another country so I have an excuse to research more customs. Here are a few things I learned about Christmas in Spain.

Christmas is a very big, important festive holiday in Spain—one based on sharing traditions with loved ones. In the days leading up to Christmas, Nativity scenes—called “Belen” from the Spanish word for Bethlehem—appear in many churches and homes. It’s a time filled with the music of the season.

The Spanish name for Christmas Eve, “Nochebuena”, means “Goodnight”, and is one of the most important times in the year for people to come together and share a meal. This is a night when most restaurants and bars are closed so people are encouraged to be home. The typical meal may start with prawns and have suckling pig, seafood, fowl or roast lamb as the main course. Turron, a special treat, is a nougat made from sweet almonds. Other almond sweets are marzapan and polvorones. Fine Spanish wines and Cava, a Catalan champagne, are the drinks especially popular for toasting the holiday. After the meal, many Spaniards go to midnight mass, “La misa del Gallo”, which translates as “Rooster Mass”. The name comes from the tradition that the rooster made the first announcement of Christ’s birth.

Shops are closed Christmas day, which is a national holiday. Children may receive small gifts from Papa Noel—the Spanish Santa Claus—but they know their main gifts will arrive January 6th, the day of Epiphany, when the Three Kings bring presents for all the children. People often have their large meal at lunchtime—with family at home or in restaurants.

How do you celebrate the holidays? Do you prefer to stay with tried and true traditions or to try something new each year? Maybe a blend of both? Since my family lives far away, I join the crowds of Christmas travelers—I suppose we’re like modern day pilgrims, in a way. The travel’s not much fun, but I cherish being with family, especially at this time of year. I enjoy the foods and fragrances of the season, and especially the lights. However you choose to celebrate, I hope this is a sparkling holiday season for you and yours.

About the Author: By day she’s a mild-mannered language teacher. But after hours, Mardi Ballou’s wild writer persona erupts and entraps her in bondage…to her computer. Release comes only once she achieves her word count goal, at which point the maniacal chocolate monster will give her one sublime piece. And then she can spend time with her hero husband Lee, who gives great massages at strategic times. So Mardi writes what she knows— romances—hot and mainstream—for Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, NCP, Whiskey Creek, and Changeling. Also women’s fiction. Her most recent releases are, from Ellora’s Cave, Dark Venues, Sherry Amor, Soap Bloke, and Desert Destiny in e-book format and, in print, "Long, Slow Ride" in the Better with Age anthology and "Perfect Pear" in the Ripe and Ready anthology. The Fangly, My Dear series—Byte Marks, What’s a Ghoul to Do? and Playing with Matches—is in print from Samhain. Check out all of Mardi’s books, and more, at

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a download of Sherry Amor.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Ella Jade

Domestic Goddess or Romance Author?
By Ella Jade

Can't I be both?

Hello everyone. My name is Ella Jade and I'm thrilled to be here during this magical time of year. The holiday season is upon us and there's so much to do. There are cookies to be baked, presents to be bought and wrapped, a house to be decorated and stockings to hang by the chimney.
Geesh…looks like I'll be a busy girl. I don’t mind because I like this kind of busy. The holidays can often be stressful, but I try to take a step back and relax. I want to do as many fun and exciting things as I can with my family during the month of December. One of my favorite things to do is working the Holiday shop at the kids' school. I love seeing kids little faces light up when they're buying a little trinket for their mom, dad, aunts, uncles or pets. They're so cute and innocent. Another special thing I like to do is bake cookies with my mom and kids. We dedicate an entire Sunday to making all sorts of cookies. It's messy, but fun! And, I think we eat more than we should!

Watching holiday movies and specials are also a big tradition in my house. We even start with Elf the weekend before Thanksgiving so we can squeeze them all in throughout the season. Some of our must-sees are Jingle All the Way, Christmas Vacation, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street. We light a fire, make popcorn and just snuggle under the blankets. The rest of the year is always so crazy with school, homework, sports and anything else that pops up, so we try to schedule as much family time as possible during these few special weeks. I want my kids to have memories that will last a lifetime.

I'm also hosting Christmas dinner this year. I'm cooking for twenty guests! What delicious concoction can I come up with? What will my centerpiece be? How will I dress the table? My husband says we don’t have time for me to have a "Martha moment" because we're busy enough. But, I LOVE to entertain and make people feel welcome in my home. Hmm…I'm thinking some sort of white chocolate, raspberry cheesecake will need to be created and I really can't forget the Pomegranate martinis, can I?

With all of the planning, organizing and creating during this time of year, I still make an effort to write. I'm a romance author after all, and so much inspiration can be found around these next few weeks. The smell of a fresh pine wreath, mistletoe hanging from a doorway, a cup of hot chocolate by the fire or even the reflection of the lights from the tree all serves as wonderful writing prompts for me. So, as busy as I am, I always make time when everyone else is asleep and the house is quiet to sneak downstairs, turn on the lights to the tree and mantle and let the season get my creative juices flowing.

I hope you find inspiration this holiday season in every aspect of your life. I wish you all a happy and safe holiday. Stop by my blog-- I love to make new friends.

And, if you're looking for something naughty to read on these cold nights, check out my newest release, Embracing the Unexpected. You can find it at

Leave me some love in the form of a comment for your chance to win an eBook copy of Embracing the Unexpected.

Happy Holidays!

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Paul Martin

It has been a long time coming, but I am so happy to be here as an author and not as a fan. I can’t think of anyplace other than Whipped Cream to share my thoughts on Christmas, my favorite time of year. For my Christmas present to you, I’ll be giving away a random copy of my holiday release, A Present for Santa from Secret Cravings Publishing, to one commenter.

Everyone has their own preferences about Christmas. Whether it is Gene Autry singing Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer on the radio, Bing Cosby in White Christmas on TV, or shopping for the right present for Aunt Agatha, it holds a special meaning to you. For me, it’s not Christmas until Ralphy gets his Red Rider BB gun.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and no matter how old I get on the outside, when Christmas rolls around, I become a little boy again anxiously awaiting the big man’s arrival. Decorating the tree, setting up the train and miniature village, and reveling in the tantalizing aromas coming from the kitchen bring back lots of fond memories of Christmas’ past.

This year, he came a bit early. My girlfriend, who lives out of state, sent me a big box full of goodies. As that little boy, I find myself shaking and examining those carefully wrapped presents to find out what is inside. I think one is shirts, which is good, because she has great taste in clothes. She has me baffled on the rest. She knows how I am and has become very crafty in wrapping them.

She, on the other hand is extremely difficult to buy for. “I have everything I want,” she tells me. As she will be reading this blog, I’m not going to tell you what I sent her, but I know it is something she doesn’t have and will love. The only clue I will give is, I made it myself. What are some of your favorite memories? While you reminisce, here's a blurb about A Present for Santa.

Merry Christmas everyone!
Paul Martin

In the mistaken belief the man in the red suit is her boyfriend; Holly Bush proceeds to give him a Christmas present he will never forget. Kris Kringle, embarrassed at being caught delivering a present, is awed at what the nearly naked woman who caught him does next.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Lily Harlem

Keeping Warm
by Lily Harlem

Winter is such a wonderful time of year and I adore everything about it. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against the summer; lounging on the beach with a cocktail and a good book suits me very well. But I don’t get that snuggly feeling at the approach of summer that I do with winter. The leaves beginning to turn and the mornings that hold a nip in the air are a promise of long cozy evenings snuggling up to Mr. Harlem. We like to open a nice bottle of red wine, light the fire and watch all the programmes we said we’d watch over the summer but didn’t. Yep, winter is great - soft jumpers, fluffy socks, tasty treats and long, long nights.

I live in the UK, miles from any big city and right out in the countryside – or the ‘sticks’ as we call it. Wildlife is abundant and often more so in the winter as animals brave the cold in search of food. But another thing that brings animals and people out is the age old tradition of The Hunt - which I have to say is another wonderful way of keeping warm in the winter. It used to be fox hunting but that’s illegal now so the hounds chase a synthetic fox scent that has been dragged over miles of fields and woodland by a quad bike.

The hunts are grand affairs full of pomp and etiquette. They always meet late morning at one of the biggest houses around. The hosts, usually the Lord and Lady of the Manor, dish out port, sausage rolls and fruit cake -sustenance for a day of riding and a little alcohol to boost nervous riders.

The horses are, in the majority, some of the finest creatures you will ever see. Huge athletes with their coats clipped to prevent them getting too sweaty and their manes and tales shampooed and set. And the people on them, well, they are of course impeccably turned out too, at least at the beginning of the day; by the end there is a considerable amount of dishevelment. The Hunt Master and his team wear bright red riding jackets with cravats and gold pins. They carry long whips to keep the hounds in order and one of them uses a brass horn to signal which way the hunt is going. I always study these men carefully; they are skilled riders and have had their positions in the hunt passed down over generations. They love the thrill of the chase, the hedges and gates that need to be jumped, the spectators along the way. Many are really very handsome as they sit there in the finery, and there is something about the way they are so calm and genteel at the beginning and then career off into the distance on their fine steeds. Beneath their exquisite tailoring and polite smiles they are adrenaline junkies, risk takers – watching them gets my heart going every time!

At the end of the day, as the light fades and mist begins to roll across the meadows, the hunt returns to the starting point. There are always stories of falls and near misses; horses and riders are sweaty and muddy. There are lots of smiles, laughter and raucousness as horses are loaded onto trailers to be taken back to their stables. Most people have hip flasks and you will see them swigging their whiskey or brandy as they chat about the next hunt.

So you see in the UK we have many ways to keep warm, belting around the countryside with a pack of hounds chasing a fox scent is just one of them. But the feeling of being outside in the cold, sharp air, flying over fields and hedges, trusting your horse and him trusting you is truly amazing, and sitting down that evening, tired but happy, makes you feel warm to the bone. So what about you? Any winter traditions where you live that keep you warm? I’d love to hear about them.

Lily Harlem

My latest release is Cold Nights, Hot Bodies available from Ellora’s Cave and I will be giving away a copy here at Whipped Cream. Also if you get time do stop by my website; there’s plenty of FREE reads and heaps of man candy!

About the Author:Lily Harlem is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary erotic romance.

She lives in the UK and writes for several publishing houses including Ellora’s Cave and Total-E-Bound and features in numerous UK and US anthologies.

Her stories are made up of colourful characters travelling on everyone’s favourite journey — falling in love. If the story isn’t deliciously romantic and down and dirty sexy, it won’t be written, at least not by Lily. With the bedroom door left well and truly open readers are warned to hang on for a steamy, sensual ride - or rides as the case maybe!

Website –

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Vivian Vincent

I normally embrace the Christmas season with open arms. It lifts my spirits to see people come together during the holidays. This year, however, Christmas just won’t be the same for me. I lost my mother in May of this year – we buried her on Mother’s Day.

I remember Christmases at my house were always festive and full of life. My mom loved Christmas. She’d do outrageous things to me and my brother like wrapping a very small gift in a very large box, or put the small box inside a larger one, then a larger one still, and so on.

I even remember one year where she had something wrapped in plain brown paper and told me and my brother it was for another relative and she wanted us to decorate it. So we went to town with our crayons and markers and made the most festive holiday wrapping we could. I think we were around six and seven at the time (my brother is a year older than me). Turns out, the gift was for us. It was an air-hockey table!

My most memorable Christmas, though, was probably the first year mom was on her own. It was probably 1974 (she and my dad were divorced in 1975 but he had moved out before then) and she was struggling to keep the bills paid, plus have a good Christmas for me and my brother.

All we’d wanted that year was a sled. You know, one of those ones with the metal runners and wooden planks. Mom told us Santa would try his best to get it. My brother and I were young enough to still believe in Santa Claus, but also old enough to know that “Santa” was really mom and dad.

Anyway, we went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, just as always, with my aunt, uncle and three cousins, not knowing that “Santa” was working his magic back at our house.

When we returned home, my brother and I ran into the house, into the living room and low and behold, there was our sled! Wrapped in a giant red bow! We got a few other gifts that year, but the only one I remember was the sled.

My mom didn’t even know it was there. Turns out my mom’s best friend and her husband (who lived across the street from us) bought the sled, kept it in their basement until Christmas, then brought it over while we were at mass. They covered their tracks in the freshly fallen snow, so we never knew anyone had been in the house.

To this day, that remains my favorite Christmas. I know the neighbors were also friends with my mom, but it still amazes me the kindness they showed, just so my brother and I could have a good Christmas – and they had three young boys of their own!

Now, I don’t know if my mom ever paid them back, but I don’t think it really matters. I’m sure she paid back the kindness in other ways. She was always a giving person, never selfish. She loved Christmas and always tried to make it fun, even when we were adults.

Over the past few years, she’d become increasingly less mobile and more dependent on my stepdad, but even then, she was always gung-ho about the holidays. Every year, like clockwork, she’d fill out Christmas cards and send them out. This year, I’m guessing will be different and I know there won’t be any Christmas from here on out that’ll be the same without my mom, but I’ll never ever forget how she made us feel around the holidays.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful new year. Keep that charitable feeling long after the holidays are past. Remember, there’s always someone who’s worse off than you and a small amount of kindness, or even a smile or a hug, can work wonders for someone’s demeanor.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Ms. Vincent was born and raised in the great state of Michigan where she’s lived for her entire life and has worked in a local assembly plant for the past seventeen years. Her work in erotic fiction only began a few years ago, writing under the name michchick98 on Literotica and Stories Online, receiving high praise for her work at both sites. Her previous writing experience dates as far back as her high school newspaper.

Currently, she has nearly two dozen e-books and several anthologies available through eXcessica and Written Expressions. When she’s not working or writing her next story, Ms. Vincent enjoys reading, movies and listening to eighties tunes on her mp3 player. She gets her inspiration from the people in her life, songs she hears on the radio or just her active imagination. Ms. Vincent holds a distinction in the world of erotic fiction as being one of the few authors who remains happily single. Her style comes from the passion, hunger and variety of always being able to call the shots on her own.

Vivian is giving away a PDF copy of Holiday Auction to one lucky commenter.

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Ms. Cinsearae S.

A Nightmare Before Christmas, Indeed!

Okay, so I've never been the type to be chipper around the holidays. Losing family members around that time of year doesn't help. The true spirit of the holiday was sucked out of it long ago, thanks to commercialism. A barrage of disgruntled shoppers and the whole snatch-n-grab race at the stores, plus the whole 'gimmie, gimmie, gimmie' attitude make me turn away in disgust. I like The Grinch. My only favorite holiday story is A Christmas Carol, because of the creep-factor it offers. (Can you imagine being visited by all those ghosts--especially the last one?) But my favorite holiday icon? Krampus. Never heard of him? Probably not, as most folks do not want to hear of such a darker charater so closely associated with a time of supposed mirth and joy, not to mention hanging around such a jolly old elf like Santa...

Krampus is interpreted a bit differently in other countries, but they can all round out to Krampus being Santa's 'evil brother', 'alter ego'... or even the yin to Santa's yang. Krampus is a demon who comes along with Santa to punish all the children who have been bad throughout the year, while Santa carries on his gift-giving duties to the good ones. Krampus is depicted as wearing chains, and is covered in fur having a very goatlike face with a long red tongue. He also carries a switch or stick to beat those same bad little childern. (That would definitely make any kid straighten up their act, wouldn't it?) Krampus Night is celebrated mostly in Austria on St. Nicholas Day Eve. A similiar being of German myth called Ruebezahl, is a combination of both this demon and Santa, looking like a really big, evil-looking version of St. Nick.

To lighten that bit of that Yuletide eeriness, I'd like to offer a delicious holiday drink recipe, which should hopefully keep you warm and toasty during this cold season.

Wassail recipe

5 c. apple cider
3 c. dry red wine
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/4 tsp. whole allspice
1 stick of cinnamon (approx. 3" long)

Combine spices in a cheesecloth or coffee filter, etc, to keep them from floating around. Put everything in a 3 1/2 to 6 qt. slow cooker and cook on low heat for approx 3-4 hrs. Remove spices and cinnamon befor serving.
If you'd like a non-alcoholic recipe, just use 8 c. of cider. This recipe makes sixteen one-half cup servings. Enjoy!

Now for the giveaway! I'll be offering a holiday-themed hair accessory and earrings from my Etsy shop, Mistress Rae's Decadent Designs (, and I'd like to invite everyone to download a copy of "ABRAXAS: A Very Merry Something" --a free short story from The ABRAXAS Series. ( If the link gives you a problem, just email me at gratistavampires(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll send you a copy. Happy holidays, everyone!

About the Author: Ms. Cinsearae S. is the Editor/Publisher of award-winning Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine and a graphic designer for Damnation Books and independent authors. Author of The Abraxas Series, Boleyn: Tudor Vampire, and In The Beginning (published through Black Bed Sheet Books), Cinsearae is an avid lover of all things gothic and horrific, and is a huge Vincent Price fan. She lives with her husband and two rat terriers, aptly named Hades and Chaos. Visit her at, plus find 'The ABRAXAS Series' and more of her works at Feel free to add her as a friend on Facebook and find her on Twitter.