Saturday, December 20, 2014

Winter Theme Week: Snowy Excerpts!

Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
"Snowy excerpts are like snowy egrets except not even a little." -- Jody Wallace

In just a few short, holiday-frantic days, I'll be releasing the second in my Dreamwalkers paranormal/urban fantasy series about the humans who can drag monsters onto our plane simply by dreaming about them and how they fight the products of their imaginations. DISCIPLE is set several months after my already-published -- and very very cheap, only 99 cents!!! -- novella TANGIBLE, which introduces Maggie, our heroine, who's about to find out about the secret world of dreamers in this excerpt...

***


One week later. Richmond, Virginia.

Margaret Louise Mackey, feet icy in wet tennis shoes, hesitated at the mouth of the shortcut she always took home from the coffee shop. Fresh snow blanketed the ground, having piled atop the old layer while she’d sipped mocha lattes and postponed bedtime. There were no footprints in the narrow alley between the townhouses, no tire tracks, and not much light except the gibbous moon.

There was nothing to fear in that darkened alley. She’d walked it every day for the past month. Growing up, she’d skipped up and down it on a regular basis.

Yet tonight terror locked her joints, dried her mouth and made her heart pound. The crisp scent of snow in the air, the painful bite of winter on her exposed skin, and the angle of that gibbous moon had all happened before.

Last night, in the nightmare.

Not her first nightmare since the funeral, but this one had been different. This one had felt real. If dreams came true—which she’d seen no proof of in her life or anyone else’s—halfway down that alley, she was going to die. Ripped to pieces by vampires straight out of the television shows she’d been glomming to keep herself awake at night.

Maggie considered returning to the sidewalk and heading for the house that way. Longer but...safer? And more pathetic. And she didn’t trust Richmond drivers in this late winter snow. In any snow. Wouldn’t take much for one of those idiots to skid onto the sidewalk and into her.

She’d lost enough family members to bad drivers lately.

A gust of wind slammed her from the side, snow swirling into her face, sticking to her hair and cutting through her fleece pants to freeze her legs. The coffee shop was a fifteen minute walk from the house and it alarmed her that she could barely feel her fingers and toes.

Much more of this and she’d be nursing frostbite in addition to insomnia, bad dreams and grief. She wanted to be safely home, tucked under the comforter on the couch, eating something junky and watching television.

The therapist had assured her grieving was necessary but she couldn’t allow her nightmares to dictate her behavior. Dreams were only that. Dreams. The brain working through its garbage and stress—a mental colonic.

With an eyeroll at her own melodrama, Maggie headed down the alley at a quick pace, her half-numb feet crunching through the pristine snow.

***


TANGIBLE is available at most ebook retailers near you! And everywhere on the internet is technically near you, right?

DISCIPLE BLURB WRITTEN OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD INSTEAD OF CUT AND PASTED:

Maggie and Zeke survived the events of TANGIBLE (SPOILER!) and now must make their teacher-student relationship work. Platonically. Their tolerance is tested when an enemy from Zeke's past ... dammit, basically the bad guy messes shit up. And also, there are vampires, dinosaurs, chthulhu, zombies, giant spiders, scheming weasels, secret bases, steamy sex scenes, shooting, violence, cussing, narrow escapes and explosions.

I have a great memory, don't I?



Jody Wallace

Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist of the Apocalypse

http://www.jodywallace.com * http://www.meankitty.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Paranormal Week ~ The Holly King

Posted by: PG Forte


“The Oak King and the Holly King doth rule the forest green,
One bright and fair as a summer’s morn, one dark as a winter’s e’en.
Twice in each year the pair must meet to do battle for the throne,
And one shall remain in the goddess’s arms, while the other shall rule alone.”

When it comes to mythology, I’ve always had something of a soft spot for the underdog, the anti-hero, the trickster, the misunderstood bad boy. So, it should come as no surprise that I’ve chosen to write about the Holly King.
The Holly King rules over the dark half of the year. He and his counterpart, the Oak King, are two faces of the same male deity. According to lore, the two engage in a battle with each other twice a year, at midsummer and again at midwinter, to win the goddess’s favor. The winner mates with the goddess and is ritually sacrificed at the end of his six-month’s reign, thus starting the cycle over again. The Oak King, being a sun god as well as a fertility god, rules the light half of the year. He defeats the dark at midwinter and his power continues to grow until midsummer, when the days begin to grow shorter again. He’s all sunshine, light and abundance. Whereas the Holly King, on the other hand, is mysterious, dangerous, devious…  
Anyone else visualizing Thor and Loki at this point? Yeah, me too.
In addition, the Holly King is also associated with the feast of Saturnalia, particularly its Master of Ceremonies, the Lord of Misrule. He’s all about reversals of fortune, things out of place (like the bright red and green of holly in the dead of winter) and all manner of sexual licentiousness.
Yep, definitely a trickster, that one.
In my upcoming book, The Oak King (releasing March, 2015) the Holly King is a tormented character. He’s manipulative, sly and something of a loner…until the more gregarious Oak King falls in love with a mortal woman  and the Holly King suddenly realizes what he’s about to lose.
See, in Celtic tradition, the goddess is the personification of the land. And in my book the heroine, Aine Murphy (a very independent-minded widow who owns the land where the story takes place) is herself a personification of the goddess. The Oak King, Fionn O’Daire, sees her and is smitten and decides to leave his throne to be with her.  Unfortunately, he waits until after they’re married to reveal his true identity to Aine who, as a modern woman (well, it is 1894, after all!) refuses to believe him at first.
Eventually it falls to Aine to restore balance and heal the rift between the two kings—a rift which is, of course, almost entirely the Holly King’s fault.
The following (completely unedited) scene is Aine’s first meeting with Kieran.
Excerpt:
Breathless, Aine stared up into the face of the dark-haired devil who’d materialized out of thin air, like the very worst sort of black magic. A pair of glimmering eyes stared back at her, mesmerizing in their intensity. Their color was exquisite too, the deepest green there e’er was, overlaid with silver. At any other time, she’d have appreciated the sight far more than she did right then.
“Kieran.” Fionn’s voice was harsh and cold with anger. “What are you doing here?”
A mocking smile curved the stranger’s lips as his glittering gaze rose to meet Fionn’s. “Well met, my liege, but I should have thought the reason for my being here was obvious.”
Not quite as tall as Fionn, nor nearly as broad, he was still as handsome a man as any Aine had ever encountered. His hair had been brushed back from his face and reached almost to his shoulders. Like the beard that bracketed his mouth, it was dark as coal, just lightly touched with frost. When he turned his sparkling gaze back upon her, Aine’s heart stood still.
“I wanted to introduce myself to your new bride, of course, and wish her happy. But perhaps I’ve come at an inopportune time?”
“You bloody well know you have,” Fionn answered. ’Tis a full ten days before the solstice—far too soon for you to be here. What were ye thinking?”
“Who are you?” Aine asked at last, finally finding her voice. “How did you get in here?”
The man’s smile stretched wider. “I will tell you, since you ask, though I don’t expect you’ll be pleased with my answers, nor yet believe me.”
He’d held out his hand to her as he spoke and Aine was shocked when her own hand found its way into his grasp without any thought of hers to guide it. A shiver of excitement worked its way up Aine’s arm as he lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a gentle kiss against her knuckles.
“My name, dear lady, is Kieran Mac Cuilenn,.” The stranger’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “But I’m better known to you, perhaps, as the Holly King. I go where I will and tarry wherever I find a welcome.”
“Oh, gods save me,” Aine whispered. “This cannot be.”
“Indeed it can. And why so surprised?” He gestured at the holly branch she’d hung over the fireplace. “It appears to me I was expected. Did you intend for me to wait upon your doorstep when you’ve already invited me in by proxy?”
Aine shook her head. Either the two men were telling the truth or they were separate-but-equally daft in their delusions. Or else she’d completely lost possession of her senses and slipped into a dream. Each of these options seemed every bit as likely as the other, and she could not for the life of her decide which of the alternatives she hoped for or feared the most.
“And yet again I say it,” Fionn growled. “Why are you here?”
A little of the warmth left Kieran’s expression at that, and even his voice turned remote. “Behold, my lord, the wheel of the year is spinning. A new season draws nigh. I’ve come to yield my crown to you, O King of the Forest.”
“What…now?” Fionn stiffened in surprise. Aine felt the tremor that ran through him. “What new mischief is this? It’s not yet the solstice. I still have time.”
Kieran sighed. “Not this year. Our days are ruled by both Sun and Moon. Tonight the Oak Moon rises full and my rule ends.”
 “What care I what phase the moon is in? She does not concern me. ’Tis the sun I’m bound to follow and his circuit is not yet complete. Our reigns are set, Kieran. And you’ve no more right to re-order the days than I do.”
Kieran sighed. “Come now, all this arguing is beneath us, and useless besides. I am well within my rights, I promise you. By virtue of its placement on the calendar, falling as it does between the old year and the new, Yule is a season unto itself, belonging to neither and yet to both. It is a thing apart, as it were, a time out of time. As such it falls under the purview of the In-Between.
“Over which you also have rule, if I recall correctly. I see now how this works. How very convenient for you. But I tell you, I will not have it!”
“Much as it pains me to disagree with you, I fear I must beg to differ with my sire yet again,” Kieran said. “I do not rule the ’Tween; indeed, it suffers no one’s rule, for it too is a thing unto itself. Still, those of us, myself included, who are ourselves creatures of the ’Tween, who belong to its mystery and share its attributes, are granted certain rights. While within its sphere of influence we may make use of its fluidity, stretching and molding it according to our wishes and thus shaping it to our needs. Tonight I judged it meet that my reign should end anon. And as I wish it, so it is. I pray you will not embarrass either of us by making any further protests. Whether you will it or no, you are bound to this duty. It is time for you to go.”
Kieran’s voice rang with certainty and weighty finality and, in response, a low moan of protest broke from Fionn’s lips. “No!”
The sound was very like a wintery gale whistling through the bare and brittle branches, so cold and desolate that Aine’s heart clenched. Startled, she turned and stared up at her husband. “Fionn?” The agonized look on his face as he met her gaze tore at her emotions. “What is it? What’s happening?”
There was a ghostly paleness to his face now, as though the moon itself was shining through it. A sad smile wreathed his lips. “I’m leaving, a grádh, my dearest love. Though it grieves me terribly, I must bid you farewell.”

If you'd like to read more about The Oak King, there's another excerpt here:  http://www.pgforte.com/OakKingExcerpt.htm


You might also like to check out my earlier Celtic-Christmas story, Iron:

Nineteenth century Ireland. Blacksmith Gavin O’Malley is a bitter man, with a heart as hard as the iron he forges. He wants his life back—the one that was stolen from him the day his wife died in childbirth—taking their firstborn son with her.

When Aislinn Deirbhile, an immortal, shape-shifting fae, arrives on his doorstep, he knows he’s in luck. For Aislinn can give Gavin everything he’s been missing: A devoted-seeming wife in the image of his beloved Mairead, and children who are sure to outlive their father. Now, all he has to do is find a way to keep her—without losing his immortal soul in the process.

But Aislinn has an agenda of her own. On the run from a vengeful fae lord who’s vowed to either make her his or end her existence, she knows the iron that allows Gavin to take her captive will also keep her pursuers at bay. In order to put herself permanently beyond her enemy’s reach, however, Aislinn will need something more. She’ll need to win Gavin’s heart and convince him to willingly part with a piece of the very soul he’s trying to save. 

If you haven't already done so, please join me on Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/pgforte

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Many Degrees of Winter

Posted by: Linda Mooney
One thing about winter in south Texas, you never know if the temperature is going to be freezing or sweltering. The same can go for romance fiction. When you're ready for a love story, you have to decide if you prefer a little cozying in front of a crackling fire, or enough hot action that would melt the snow off the roof.

Let's begin with being cozy. With a ghost.

An old cottage. A cold winter's night.
And shadows on the wall reflecting two bodies in the heat of passion...
except that one of them died over a century ago.

At first, Connie thought the disembodied voice in the room was due to her exhaustion. But when the apparition insisted she was the reincarnation of his lost love, she had no choice but to allow herself to become swept up in the moment, the memories, and the romance.


Warning! Contains an antique tintype and a moment of eternity before a hearth.

Ratcheting it up a notch, let's go a little seasonal with a witch.

Once upon a time, there lived a man with five rambunctious daughters. They were an average American farming family except for one minor detail. The man was a warlock, and all of his daughters were witchlets—half witch and half human.

With Christmas only two days away, Tamberly Blakeney has given up hope of finding her heart's call this year. That is, until Jonathan Mauk walks into the market and into her life. With the magical swirl of a candy cane's stripes, she knows he is the man meant to be her lifelong love. But first he has to pass the sex hex test, which she is sure won't be a problem.

What she doesn't realize is that there is something in Jonathan's past that deeply disturbs her father. And until Daddy gets all the answers, there could be hell to pay.


If you prefer your winter romances from an alternate timeline...

Shelby Fyre owns Fyreside Inn.  It's a respectable bed and breakfast, except for one thing.  There's a strange man appearing in her shower, in her kitchen, and in her bedroom. 

The only problem is... Shelby lives alone.





Finally, and I mean finally, there's always a scorching hot Christmas at the end of the world.

If you had only one more day to live, what would you do?

Corwin knows. And no one and nothing is going to stop him from the telling the woman he has loved silently and from afar how much he cares for her.







For excerpts and buy links, as well as other books, check out my website.

And don't forget to enter my 12 Giveaway Days of Christmas on my blog! Every day between now and December 24th, I'm giving away an ebook AND a $5 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble!



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top Ten Teen Movie Romances I Grew Up With

Posted by: Danube Adele

The top ten romantic movies that helped shape my views of love, life, and relationships during my teen years are movies that still have the power to move me, even today. They have the ability to take me back to those universal issues that I went through during my own high school years, the angst, the excitement of first attraction, the triumphs, the disappointments that teens have to live through. It’s a challenging time in life, and these movies got it right for me.

Sixteen Candles – You cannot argue this one. Jake Ryan was one of the most romantic icons a young teenage girl could have. He was gorgeous with a tough guy exterior, but we also saw that he had kindness and integrity. He wanted the smart, thinking, caring, quirky girl, not necessarily the beauty queen who was fine with trashing his house. But the best part of all? He goes after who he wants. There’s that moment, that one perfect moment at the end of the movie when Samantha is coming out of the church, having just gotten through the crazy wedding with her equally crazy family, and suddenly he’s there, waiting for her outside the church. Makes me tear up every time. Everyone wants to have their Jake Ryan.

Pretty in Pink – One of my favorite scenes is when Ducky comes to Andie’s place of work, the record store, and starts singing the Otis Redding song “Try a Little Tenderness”. Love that scene! It was a scene that prompted me to buy the Otis Redding album that had that song. I loved that she was so creative, making her own clothing. She represents the alienation we all feel at one point or other in life, not fitting the mold, which is truly a gift, but in high school, you don’t know that. I loved her strength, and it was the first movie I’d seen where a child had to step into a parent role. Her father was a flake, with reason, but still.

Breakfast Club – I wanted to see Claire (Molly Ringwald) get together with the bad boy, who I had the biggest crush on. They were so far apart in school culture and societal expectations, but I wanted to see her get a little dirty and him get a little clean. I wanted her to stop being such a tight-ass, and him to have some self-respect so they could meet in the middle and not just make it out alive, but thrive in life. I wanted them to be able to stick it to “the man”.   

Some Kind of Wonderful – Eric Stoltz. Doesn’t that just say it all? And the angst Watts goes through  watching him fight for a girl who doesn’t even care about him gets me every time, probably because I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid and didn’t know how to be soft for a long time. She was in love with him, but he only saw her as his friend. How was she going to get him to see that she was not one of the guys, and was, in fact, a girl with a sweet heart?

The Pirate Movie – Completely sexy for a young teen girl. All these hot guys were chasing all of these hot girls. There was tons of skin, tons of sexual innuendo, and the music was just fun. It was playful, didn’t show anything I wouldn’t want my own kids to see, and didn’t take itself seriously in the least.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – My mother loved musicals, and while there were many musicals I saw, this one sticks out the most. Again, all of these handsome mountain men were going after all of these beautiful young women, which involved a lot of singing and dancing. Great fun. Under it all, I loved that even though they were newly married, Milly kicks Adam out of the house until he can grow up, get his head on straight, and realize that he needed to learn what it meant to truly love and respect another person.

Grease – If this movie is on, you might have to cover your ears because I’m going to sing along, and I won’t by shy about it. I love the music, the dancing and the innocence of the romance. Who didn’t want to be Sandy wearing the black pants and leather jacket at the end of the movie, minus the cigarette, which she ends up ditching anyway? Innocence spreading her wings for a test flight into sensuality. 

Desperately Seeking Susan – I had a thing for Madonna. I must admit this. I did my best, as much as my mother would allow, to wear clothes that would be reminiscent of her style. She was such a free spirit in the movie, and I thought it was awesome that Rosanna Arquette’s character had the opportunity to step outside of herself and experience life from a different perspective with joy, excitement and true love. I learned that we can’t let ourselves be hemmed into categories, and that realizing your full potential as a human was part of fulfilling your responsibility in life.

Footloose – Kevin Bacon was hot! Need I say more? It was also quite freaky that a small town would have a law against dancing. What was ultimately cool, the wild child preacher’s kid pretty girl breaks the stereotype she’s molded herself into and learns to have self-respect, and to question who she really wants to be in life.

Goonies Just so playful and innocent. The cute girl grows a pair by the end of it all and isn’t just reliant on the jock to take care of her.

It was so hard to choose only ten movies because there were so many that I loved. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch that were equally good, but I’m sticking with these.

What teen romance movies influenced you growing up?
NEW RELEASE!!!
Would you like a steamy read over the holidays? Book Three of the Dreamwalkers series just came out! Here's a quick summary...

Dr. Cecilia—Ceci—Bradford at your service.
I dance, rock climb, and have mastered MMA, because just being a twenty-six-year-old doctor isn't enough. It doesn't keep me from remembering the terrifying night my life changed, the night my true love died. I was nearly seventeen.
Life goes on, but the secret I keep is that I still talk to him in my dreams. That was getting me by until Tabron showed up—or, more specifically, until the six-foot-two brute of a Viking whisked me off to another planet because his leader is dying. And the joy didn't end there. I'm being forced to choose a mate. The Brausa are facing extinction.
Tabron has no need for a mate, himself, and he's told me as much. Multiple times. What he does have are hands and wicked lips that stir feelings I thought lost forever. Choosing him (just to play along until I can find a way home) seems to irk him and I find this surprisingly fun. But surviving a hidden conspiracy and the dangers of this alien place might be more difficult than I could ever imagine…
Book Three of The Dreamwalkers

BUYS LINKS...

Carina Press

Amazon

BN

Kobo

All Romance

Thanks so much for spending time with me. You can find me at www.facebook.com/Writer.D.Adele, www.twitter.com/DanubeAdele, www.google.com/+DanubeAdele, www.danubeadele.com, www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340150.Danube_Adele

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Winter Metaphor

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy



Welcome to our Winter Paranormal Week on Here Be Magic!

We kicked off the theme with Nicole Luiken's take on Jack Frost. I'm going to continue with some thoughts on the role of the winter landscape in the first two books of The Twelve Kingdoms.
First,  in The Mark of the Tala, my heroine Andi - Princess Andromeda - is plagued with visions of a man dead in the snow.

The smell of blood saturates my memories, the crimson circle widening in the snow around his body, just as I’d seen it, over and over in visions. 

The image makes little sense at first, partly because she is unaware she's inherited the gift of prophecy from her long-dead mother, but also because it's late summer and there's no snow. As the story progresses, however, and Andi leaves her home to live in a foreign land, it begins to snow.

As we climbed, the trees broke the wind and the ice crystals became fat snowflakes. The ground disappeared under the fall of white, all sound but ours muffled.

Snow dominates the next few scenes as they travel through the mountains - until they enter Annfwn. Crossing the magical border into another land is moving from icy winter to tropical summer. This transition is key in all three books, moving back and forth between the seasons, demarcated by magic.

Waiting in the cold, wrapped in layers of furs, were thousands of Tala, all in human form. They stretched into the forest and down the ravines on either side. Countless sets of fierce blue eyes focused on me, their expectation strong in the air. They ranged along the border, which seemed to sparkle in the air. My blood sang with it, a low hum of recognition. Even if I didn’t have that, or the abrupt line where the crowded people ended and open land began, the other side made it clear. Where we stood in frozen, high-mountain early winter, the land beyond appeared to be in the bloom of late summer. Verdant trees spread enormous leaves to the setting sun. The forest floor, velvety moss studded with jewel-like blossoms, became a great meadow, waving with tall emerald grasses.
When Andi's vision comes true, it happens in winter, in the snow, though not exactly as she'd seen, largely because the choices she makes changes the order of events.

In the second book, The Tears of the Rose, Ami, Princess Amelia, follows a similar journey. Most of her story takes place in the dead of winter, which echoes the bleakness of her life. She moves through a winter landscape, from the storm-tossed shores of her home in Windroven, back to where she grew up - and then also up through the mountains to Annfwn.

Sometimes snow sifted down from the branches and the wood creaked when a hand of wind fisted through the limbs high against the wintery sky. It seemed other things moved there, too. Wrong things. My memory flashed onto those strange oily creatures that had invaded Ordnung when the Tala attacked and came after Andi. I tried to get a better look, but they were like the childhood monsters that disappeared when you lit a candle. 

When she reaches the place of Andi's vision, she finds an odd juxtaposition of winter and summer.

Not sure what I was looking for, I spotted a clear patch that held, of all things, a spot of green. Bright, acid green, like the White Monk’s eyes when he was most amused—or most hateful. Kicked-up snow mounded around it, but now melted, sliding off and making a damp, muddy ring. A patch of grass, incongruous in the frozen landscape, with a flower inside. A forget-me-not, but larger than it should be, the vivid summer-sky blue of Hugh’s eyes.

For Ami, also, entering Annfwn is a turning point in her life. The movement from the hibernation of grief into living again.

In Greek mythology, winter is the season of Demeter's grief, because her daughter Persephone was abducted to the Underworld, where she must forever spend six months of the year. The Twelve Kingdoms stories echo much of theme of that myth - about mothers and daughters, leaving home and finding home, about the stages of a woman's life and the emergence of life again out of death.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Dr. Cecilia--Ceci--Bradford at your service.

I dance, rock climb, and have mastered MMA, because just being a twenty-six-year-old doctor isn't enough. It doesn't keep me from remembering the terrifying night my life changed, the night my true love died. I was nearly seventeen.

Life goes on, but the secret I keep is that I still talk to him in my dreams. That was getting me by until Tabron showed up--or, more specifically, until the six-foot-two brute of a Viking whisked me off to another planet because his leader is dying. And the joy didn't end there. I'm being forced to choose a mate. The Brausa are facing extinction.

Tabron has no need for a mate, himself, and he's told me as much. Multiple times. What he does have are hands and wicked lips that stir feelings I thought lost forever. Choosing him (just to play along until I can find a way home) seems to irk him and I find this surprisingly fun. But surviving a hidden conspiracy and the dangers of this alien place might be more difficult than I could ever imagine...

Book Three of The Dreamwalkers

Get it today!

Group News

It's Winter Paranormal Week at Here Be Magic. Check back daily as we pay tribute to a variety of books and characters set amidst a paranormal world — in winter! In case you missed it, you can read the first of the week's posts by author Nicole Luiken here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Winter Paranormal Week -- Jack Frost

Posted by: Nicole Luiken


Welcome to Here Be Magic’s Winter Paranormal Week! I’ll be kicking things off with a post on Jack Frost, but please check back throughout the week to find out about the Holly King and other figures.

JACK FROST

The original Jack Frost was a mischievous pixie who carves feathery fern patterns on windows and nipped the noses of children. He appears in several poems published in the 1800s.

Hollywood has produced numerous Jack Frosts, including two snowmen. In Santa Clause 3, Frost is a petulant villain played by Martin Short. More recently, in Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost is a pretty preteen boy who skates around and grows from a loner to a hero.

 My version is nothing like those.

In my YA novel, Frost, Jack Frost is the least of his names. He is Cold and Nothing and Void. He lives in the Arctic, and he schemes to bring back the days when glaciers blanketed the earth. 

Cover by Relish Design Studios
I think my decision to make Frost my villain lies in the fact that I grew up on a farm in Northern Alberta. Every year, it seemed we would get hit with a week of -40 temperatures. (Fun fact, -40 Celsius is the same as -40 Fahrenheit.) And because this happened every year, instead of curling up in our warm beds, we would have to go out in it. Specifically, I would have to go stand out at the end of the driveway and wait for the school bus. I would wear tall winter boots, ski pants, long parka, large mitts over top of gloves, toque, scarf, the whole deal—and still freeze.

The return of the ice age felt VERY possible. Winter was not cute. Winter was deadly. And yes, here in Canada, winter is always coming.

Frost is set even further north in Nunavut, the newest Canadian territory, in the booming town of Iqaluit on Baffin Island. Although I never managed to convince my husband to vacation up there in December like I wanted to (go figure) I had a lot of fun researching living in the Arctic and throwing every kind of winter disaster I could think of at my characters. There’s a ski-mobile accident, a car goes through the ice on a frozen lake, a polar bear attacks, someone falls into a crevasse, there’s a blizzard, and of course, with every chapter the days grow shorter and the thermometer keeps plummeting…

The following is an excerpt from a game of Crack-the-whip which goes horribly wrong…

After practice, Cheryl found out why Johnny had gotten her to take her skates.  About half the team and Tracy and Cheryl hung around for a game of Crack-the-whip.  Since Cheryl didn't have a helmet, Johnny insisted on giving her his and going bareheaded himself.
Minik and a husky defenseman formed the anchor in the centre of the ice for the game to pivot around.  Everyone joined hands, making a line of nine.  Johnny linked first, then Cheryl.  She ended up third from the whip end.
Everyone skated in a large circle around the pivot.  After two complete rotations, the line had picked up enough momentum that Cheryl didn't have to skate.  She was pulled along by the other skaters in a dizzying circle.  The farther down the chain you were, the faster you went and the farther you travelled.
A small scream escaped Cheryl as they swung round the first corner, largely drowned out by Brendan's whoop and Tracy's louder shriek.  Johnny pulled on Cheryl's left hand, and Tracy pulled on her right.  Cheryl struggled to hold on, but Tracy began to slip free.  For a heart-stopping moment, Cheryl thought she would go with Tracy, but Johnny's grip on her hand stayed strong, almost bruisingly so.  "I've got you."
Tracy and Brendan sailed free.  Brendan braked easily, but, like Cheryl, Tracy had never mastered the T-stop and had to put out her arms to avoid smashing into the boards.  Then they quickly skated to center ice and joined the pivot end of the chain to become pullers.
Cheryl found herself at the end of the line; both the most dangerous and most thrilling position on the chain.  At its end Cheryl got the benefit of the widest swing, but if anyone's grip broke she would go flying.
"Switch grips," Johnny shouted as they headed into the next corner.
Obediently, Cheryl locked her fingers around Johnny's wrist, and Johnny did the same to her wrist, resulting in a stronger double-grip.  She needed it.  At the end of the line, the speed was faster, increasing the strain on her arm.
She was smiling, laughing even, when somebody halfway up the stands caught her eye.  Sharp white face, pointy chin, silver hair like dripping icicles and pit-dark eyes.
The line pulled her away before she could be sure, but Cheryl was instinctively certain it was The Stranger.  She looked back, but couldn't spot him again.
Couldn't, that is, until she faced forward and saw him standing a quarter of the way around the rink from where he'd been moments ago, only this time he was closer to ice level.
He was looking at her.  There was nothing of mercy in his eyes.  No human warmth, not even anger.
A shock of cold went through Cheryl.  "Johnny," she started to say, but Johnny was swearing.  Cheryl's eyes snapped wide-open as the side of the rink loomed in front of them. 
The pullers had misjudged.  Instead of skimming the side of the boards Cheryl was going to crash into them. 
They were going so fast...  She wanted to close her eyes, but kept watching in horror, certain that in a second she would squish against the boards like rotten fruit.  
Then Johnny's grip on her wrist tightened, and he pulled her in closer instead, with inhuman strength.  One of her shoulders touched his, and the other grazed the boards.
They were past. 
Cheryl had just taken a breath of relief when The Stranger appeared on the ice, right in front of her.
She cried out and tried to let go of Johnny, but his fingers bit into her wrist, and it was too late, she ran into The Stranger.  Instead of colliding with him, she went through him--needles of ice pricked her skin, like standing naked in a snowstorm--and screamed again, whipping along so fast, out of control--
Her mitten came off in Johnny's hand.
Cheryl spun off the chain toward the boards.  Whizzing.  Much too fast for Cheryl's simple snowplow to have any effect.  She smashed head-first into the boards.  Her too-large helmet tumbled off.
The last thing she heard was The Stranger's cold laughter.

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What other versions of Jack Frost have you run across? Which do you prefer?
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