Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Another round of What Kind of Books Should You Be Reading?

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
If you hang out on social media, you’ve probably seen articles going around lately that assert that science has provided new reasons why you should be reading “real” (read: print) books instead of ebooks on a Kindle or some other device. This article on the BBC addresses the question of print books vs. backlit ereaders at night, while this one over here addresses questions of whether you can retain what you’re reading when you’re reading digitally vs. in print.

Caveat: I’m a primarily digitally published author here, I’ll say that flat out. As such, I bristle when I hear people referring to print books as the “real” books or the “actual” books—because it always seems to me as if this ignores the fact that an ebook takes every bit as much effort to write and prepare for publishing as a print book does, and that an ebook can provide entertainment every bit as real as the entertainment you get by reading a print book. Because of this, I make a very specific point of avoiding “real” or “actual” when referring to a print book vs. a digital one. I stick to “print” or “physical” for a physical book, and “digital” or “electronic” for an ebook. Or I just say “print book” and “ebook”.

Now, my bias as a primarily digitally published author aside, I’d like to call out what I think is problematic about these articles, and what isn’t. I’m a big fan of SCIENCE! But in this case, I think the science was ignoring important data.

First thing: I’m seeing an annoying lack of comprehension about what you can and cannot do with an ereader. For example, the mic.com article says:

While e-readers try to recreate the sensation of turning pages and pagination, the screen is limited to one ephemeral virtual page. Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that this affects a reader's serendipity and sense of control. The inability to flip back to previous pages or control the text physically, either through making written notes or bending pages, limits one's sensory experience and thus reduces long-term memory of the text.
This presents only part of the picture. On smaller devices, yes, you can only read one page at once. But via other digital means of reading, you are not. Every single computer-based reading app I’ve played with (the Kindle, Kobo, and Nook desktop apps) allow you to see two pages at once. Ditto for the apps I’ve used on my iPad.

Likewise, every single reader or app I’ve played with is perfectly capable of returning to previous pages—either through gestures like tapping or swiping, by using a slider to return to a previous position in the book, or by using a numeric control to jump straight to a specified page number.

And while I haven’t personally played with the functionality, I know for a fact that the ability to leave highlights and notes on what you’re reading is functionality provided in several apps and on several devices. The loss of that data is one of the big reasons why people complained so loudly during the uproar a few years ago when Amazon yoinked copies of 1984 off of people’s Kindles—copies of the book that, granted, were not authorized to be published in the first place, but nonetheless, people had been leaving notes and highlights on them.

You can do all sorts of manipulation of text on various devices and in various apps, too. You can change font size. You can change the actual font. If you’re on a desktop app, a tablet, or a phone, you can often also change the color scheme of what you’re reading if you don’t like black-on-white.

Now, let me address some of the ideas here that strike me as more viable.

I do buy the idea of avoiding having a backlit device as your reading material if you’re inclined to read in bed. It seems plausible to me that interfering with your body’s circadian rhythms by having a strong light around when you’re supposed to be gearing down for sleep could be problematic. Not to mention that if your reading device of choice is a tablet or a phone, chances are high you’ve got it set up to do other things as well—email, social media, games, etc. So the chances are high that you’ll be more distracted by, say, the urge to check Facebook one more time, or answering one more email, or playing one more level on Gummy Drop. (This would be exactly why I keep my devices away from my bed. *^_^*;;)

The mic.com article also talks about the “F” pattern of people’s Internet reading, citing a study from 2006. I’ve heard of this via other sources, so this isn’t out of left field. However, I take some issue with the idea that this applies to reading digital novels.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I can testify that long before ebooks came along, I read so many books that oftentimes, if a book wasn’t holding my attention strongly enough, I skimmed over what I was reading until I found the next thing in the story that actively engaged my attention. Likewise, if it’s by an author I adore, I am perfectly capable of immersing myself in a digital novel, and remembering my favorite parts of it long after I’ve read the last few words. Jim Butcher, Mira Grant, C.E. Murphy, Julie Czerneda, and many other authors are all authors who trigger in me that all-important MUST KEEP READING CANNOT PUT BOOK DOWN reaction in me.

Whether I’m reading them in digital, or in print.

I don’t want to re-ignite the print vs. digital debate here—that’s not my overall point. As I’ve said before many times, on my own site and elsewhere, print has its advantages. So does digital. I like my ereader for its lack of weight and its ease of carrying on my commute. I like my print library for being available reading during a power outage (and if you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, you know how often we lose power during the winter here). And I still appreciate the beauty of a well-constructed physical book, which for my money is still the best way to present illustrations. (For example, I adore my copy of Tolkien’s The Children of Hurin, which has amazing art in it. And even the font choices are beautiful.)

My overall point here being this: if you’re going to do a study of how readers of print vs. readers of digital interact with what they’re reading, show some awareness of how digital reading actually works. And include some studies of people who regularly use the functionality that digital reading provides, too.

Like, say, me. But I acknowledge I’m a bit of an outlier—in a good year I read upwards of 100 books, in both digital and print forms. What’s important to me is the story itself. To paraphrase John Scalzi, asking me if I like my favorite book in print or digital form is like asking me if I like my favorite soda in a bottle or a can. It’s still my favorite soda.

And while I grant that my reading habits were built by decades of slurping up every print book I could get my hands on, still, I’d like to see readers like me considered when studying the overall trend of print vs. digital reading. I know I’m not alone in the SF/F and romance genres, either.

Now if y’all will excuse me, I’ve got a Kat Richardson novel to finish!

--
Angela Korra’ti, a.k.a. Angela Highland, has a lifetime goal of reading All The Books. And when she’s not reading everybody else's books, she's writing her own! Her next book Bone Walker is due in February 2015, and Victory of the Hawk, Book 3 of the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy, drops in April 2015! Come say hi to her at angelahighland.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

















Monday, December 29, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

You can bleed and die banishing a demon, but Fay Olwen discovers there are worse hurts. Betrayed by the Collegium and by her father, she must build a new life away from New York. Leopard-shifter Steve Jekyll would have her build it with him. But loyalties are never simple and new love never easy. When demons are unleashed, Fay tracks the evil back to the Collegium, and now all hell will break loose because Fay fights for the innocent, and Steve will protect what is his.

For fans of kick-ass heroines and shifter heroes who are alpha-male and sinfully sexy.
Get it today!
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Hunter-The-Collegium-Book-ebook/dp/B00R1SJWNU


 


Disciple by Jody Wallace -- the second book in the Dreamwalker urban fantasy series, but it does stand alone.

The book contains monsters, action, sex, adventure, dire peril, explosions and true love!

You can find it at Amazon, B&N, iTunesKobo, Samhain and other fine internet locations. Well, “fine” being a generic term for “legitimate vendors” because I hope you patronize legitimate vendors.

For an excerpt, check out its book detail page or download one from the vendors who allow that.

 

 

 

One little lie, one huge grudge, and one picture-perfect plan for revenge…

Best Revenge, Book 2
Blackmailed into a prom date by the geeky but cute Dexter Black twelve years ago, Maya is happy he’s returned to town. After wine night with her best friends, she realizes that to move on with her life, she needs to get some closure on the past. Getting back at Dex is the perfect way to start.

Warning: Blackmailing a stubborn, hot-tempered artist into bed, and an ex-Marine who has a penchant for taking pictures. Yeah, those kinds of pictures.

You can get it here.

 

 


Other News

"Faerie Blood" by Angela Highland is currently on sale for only 99 cents at Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, and Google Play. The book's sequel is scheduled to release in February 2015. Learn more here.







Sunday, December 28, 2014

Proud to be a Geek

Posted by: Kathleen Collins
So I am a self proclaimed geek. I love sci fi and fantasy pretty much across the board, which is good I guess since I write it. I am a major Doctor Who fan, a firm believer that Firefly should never have been taken off the air and an RPG loving gamer. I spend a lot of time in conversation with people discussing any of these topics or recommending the latest movie, book or game that I've fallen in love with.

This Christmas was filled with many geeky presents and I found myself thankful that my children are finding that same love of all things sci fi and fantasy. Their new favorite game is Munchkin, if you haven't played, I highly recommend. They got pop vinyls of Groot and declared them the best ever. I can have a conversation with them about the Doctor Who episodes they've seen and what's upcoming in the ones they haven't, though I don't think they'll ever love the weeping angels as much as I do.

Why is this so important to me? Because I firmly believe that a love and appreciation of things in the speculative fiction realm fuels creativity and imagination. I think that the fans of this genre, my fellow geeks if I may, are intelligent people that see the possibilities in things that others miss. They're the ones that took us to the stars and to the depths of the oceans. We are never satisfied with seeing things the way that they are, we are always interested in what they could be.

So my fellow speculative fiction lovers, what geeky goodness did you get for Christmas? What are some of your favorite shows, movies, books, etc that you feel the need to share with the rest of us? What fandoms must we be a part of?

Belated Merry Christmas and May your New Year be filled with much creativity and imagination!

***
Kathleen Collins can be found roaming around the internet on occasion and when she's not doing that she's lost in another world. You can find her here www.kathleencollins.net, on twitter @kathy_collins or on facebook www.facebook.com/kathleencollinsauthor

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Astrology: Truth, Crock or Author's Wingman?

Posted by: Steve Vera


There are two types of people in the world: Those who believe in astrology and those who do not.

For me, growing up as a Jehovah's Witness (yep, you read right), you can probably guess my childhood posture--sign me up for the crocks. I mean really, just how in the world could somebody ascertain my future simply by looking at the sky without knowing the first thing about me?

Pssssh is what I always thought.

And then this happened. One day I'm writing away and stumble across a character I wasn't planning on. A minor character--a store owner if I'm not mistaken--but I just didn't know a thing about him. For the life of me I couldn't decide if he was young or old, fat or trim, happy or unhappy; I just couldn't do it. Crispy-Brain Syndrome. What I needed was a book filled with personality traits. The question was, where oh where would I find such a thing?

And then the answer pounced on me--why an astrology book of course! Who cared if it was filled with fugeizicity? Just show me the traits, ma'am, just the traits. So I dash off to my friendly neighborhood Borders (so sad they're gone) and hit the astrology aisle where I immediately was overwhelmed. There must have been at least two gajillion of them. Undeterred, I scanned the aisle with determination and whether by chance or brilliance, my gaze settled on none other than THE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO ASTROLOGY. Worked for me, right? I grabbed it, opened it up and within seconds saw platoons of personality descriptions and adjectives staring back at me.

Victory.

I paid for the book, dashed back home but then a curious thing happened and this is truth. There was a show on the History Channel on serial killers (fertile ground for an aspiring author) that I'd been waiting to see all day and wouldn't ya know it, halfway through the program they give this astrologist only the times and dates of twenty serial killers, just to see what she'd come up with. She comes back a half hour later with this haunted look on her face. Said this person might have significant mother issues, that his so and so had the potential to develop violent aversions to this other thing; I can't remember all the details but I remember she was like eighteen for twenty on potential catastrophic personality disorders of these serial killers. I don't think they were faking. I found it very intriguing.

Same day, I'm watching the news and it's a flashback of the 2001 election between Gore and Bush. Republican pundit: Bush is going to win. Democratic pundit: Gore is going to win. And then there was the astrologist. Now, keep in mind, this was taped a half year before the elections and the astrologist said that she didn't see a clear winner, in fact, she went on the record to say that the country very well may not know who the new President of the United States was for a bit, that it might even take a couple of days. We all know how that one went and it was uncanny how spot on she'd been. It was the whole reason for the show. Coincidence?

At any rate, I devoured the book, soaked up the traits, learned about sun signs and moon signs and ascendant signs and descendant signs and planets and houses and sextiles and retrogrades even had my own chart done just for sh*ts and giggles. I learned all about it. Here's one for you--most people don't even know what astrology is the study of. Do you, fearless reader, possess such knowledge? Or will you be Googling it? Only one person I've ever asked has actually gotten it right. Interesting, huh?

If you're curious, I still don't believe in astrology but I'll say this: There's much more to it than I would have ever entertained. The one thing it certainly is is a guh-reat repository of personality traits and adjectives.

So there's a little magic for you. If you believe in it.

Steve out.



Bio:



Steve Vera is an author, wanderluster and panther-ninja.

Books | Twitter | Facebook

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays From Here Be Magic!

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Sending out the best wishes from all of us at Here Be Magic, for a warm and cozy holiday season, complete with all the things you enjoy most (and many good books to read of course)!

And lest you wonder where the magical element might be, I give you "The Fairy's Pie" from my collection of  1880's Victorian advertising cards, which was advertising New England mincemeat:

And now if you'll excuse us,we're going outside to play!



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Magic in the Real World

Posted by: Joshua Roots
We live in a world of magic.

Not the card tricks or illusionist kind. Real, honest to goodness magic.

Thing is, most folks simply don't see it.

Earlier this week, I was participating in one of my family's most popular Christmas traditions: Last Minute Shopping. It's a maddening event that we always swear we'll avoid Next Year. Then Next Year arrives and we all realize there's just one more thing out there that we want to get for that special someone.

Or that awkward someone.

Or ourselves.

I don't know why we do this. We've said time and again that we want to keep the number of presents to a minimum. Everyone agrees that we have way too much stuff in our lives. Little trinkets that fill up bookshelves and wind up in boxes when we move*. Yet every year we get caught up in showing each other the material representation of our love for one another.

Which is fine, really. But we always, always wind up at The Mall the week of Christmas.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to ever want to test your patience to its limits, look no further.

My in-laws live in a place where The Mall is on the corner of what they lovingly refer to as "Malfunction Junction". In addition to The Mall, there are a handful high-demand stores that share its footprint. What's worse, the timing of stoplights is awful which causes a horrific chain-reaction with the traffic. We avoid this bulls eye of terror at all costs, often adding 10 minutes to our drive just to bypass Malfunction Junction.

Unless, of course, we're Last Minute Shopping.

To say the least, by the time I got to The Mall, my nerves were frayed. Then I attempted to park, which rubbed lemon juice into the wound. Frustrated, I stomped inside.

And into the crowds.

Individually, I don't mind traffic, parking, or crowds. Combined, however, it's a cornucopia of hate and discontent. By the time I found The Thing for my wife, I was fuming. I paid for the trinket, barely acknowledging those around me. As I turned to leave, the cashier offered me a genuine smile and wished me a very Merry Christmas.

Instantly, my attitude shifted 180 degrees. The frustration dissipated and all the tension that had built up in my shoulders simply bled out. I smiled back and wished her the same. Lo and behold, the crowds, parking lot, and traffic to get home didn't bother me as before.

It was like a spell had been cast or a curse lifted from me.

It was almost like magic.

The funny thing about it is that I, and many of us on this blog, write about fantastical ideas. We have magical main characters or our worlds are governed by a set of magical rules. But no matter how real those people or their universes are to us, they are all still fiction. Ideas we dream up and put onto paper, many times because those are concepts we wish existed in the real world.

And yet, that magic does exist. We just have to know where to look.

There's something special about this time of year, something about the way people treat one another that is truly remarkable and completely undefinable. The way we view each other and the world in general shifts to something more understanding. More tolerant.

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but every culture, religion, and belief systems seems to have something similar. A period of time when the masses stop what they're doing to reflect on the human side of humanity. They pause to consider each other, forcing themselves to think beyond themselves.

What's magical about that is how drastic the effect is on those around us. The world is a noisy, messy place at times. Watching the news, it's easy to get lost in the abyss of despair with nations warring, murder rampant, and economies fluctuating from wealth to poverty almost overnight. And yet a simple smile from a stranger and a heart-felt wish of goodness wipes that away. In its place is a feeling that maybe, just maybe, things aren't as bad as we think. Or, even if they are, there's hope for this species.

For me and my family, Christmas is that time of year when, despite the demand to buy, buy, buy, we pause to really tell folks how much we love and appreciate them. We slow down, we look outwards, and we make a concerted effort to share heartfelt greetings with strangers because it can have a drastic impact on their attitude. Having been on the receiving end of this, I can attest to the power of that force. To the spell that is cast when we allow ourselves to believe in it. To have faith in one another. To reach out and share a little piece of ourselves with someone we love or someone we just met.

We live in a world of magic, folks.  We just have to be willing to see it.

And to share it.

So here's wishing you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a very blessed, peaceful calendar's end to you and yours. May you be the source of magic in someone else's life this coming year.





Bio:


Joshua Roots is a car collector, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He's still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Books













*It's especially annoying when you move twice in two months earlier this year. Uh, hypothetically.... 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone


Duet for Ravens by Shawna Reppert will be free on Amazon from solstice (12/21/14) thru Christmas Day.  This two-pack of short stories set in the same world as the author's award-winning urban fantasy Ravensblood.  http://www.amazon.com/Duet-Ravens-Shawna-Reppert-ebook/dp/B00H360WJ8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1419220270&sr=8-2&keywords=Duet+for+Ravens

***

Eleri Stone: Cover Reveal! The Shape of Temptation is my upcoming fantasy romance from Carina Press, available February 23rd. It's about an untrained "barbarian" mage and the imperial soldier who chases her down and drags her back to the capital for training.

This is Book Two of the Spellcraft series, but the books don't need to be read in order. They share a common world, but there's no shared plot or characters.

Pre-order links: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iBooks * Kobo

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Solstice

Posted by: Shawna Reppert


Solstice.  Sun-return. The point when the days start turning longer again.  The moment when, no matter how dark and cold it still is, we can begin to believe in the spring.  I have always believed that it is no coincidence that so many cultures around the world have holidays around this time of year.  We are all suffer together the gloom that comes from short days and long nights. We all have dark times in our lives, and we all need to believe that the wheel will turn and that those dark times will come to an end.

This longing for rebirth and renewal, this need to believe in second chances, is one of the reasons that the human race needs stories.  From Frodo apparently dead in Shelob’s lair only to be discovered alive by orcs and rescued from Sam to that moment in Return of the Jedi when Luke gives in briefly to the dark side only to pull back when he realizes how like his father he has become.  In my novel Ravensblood, we start in that dark place, with Raven rediscovering his conscience and deciding that he can no longer live with the things he must do as a dark mage in service to William.  The rest of the novel is the long, difficult return to the light.

Just as we appreciate the lengthening of days more for the darkness that precedes it, the protagonist’s victory is sweeter for the times before when it seemed that all was lost.  And in your own life, remember that the longest night is also the night when the wheel begins its turn back toward the bright promise of spring.
To all of you out there, whether this is a religious holiday or not, may your days be merry and bright.  Huzzah for the return of the light!

(As I read this over, I realize that it is extremely Northern Hemisphere-centric.  To all readers in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying your longest day.  ‘Cause we’re taking that sun back soon, and no, I’m not sorry.)

Shawna Reppert is the award winning author of Ravensblood  and The Stolen Luck.  Read her Yuletide Ravensblood vignette here:  http://www.shawna-reppert.com/2014/12/21/yuletide-ravensblood-vignette/ and look for the release of Raven's Wing, the second book in the Ravensblood universe, on January 24, 2015.

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!



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