Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Next Big Thing: My BLOOD OF ANGELS

So, Happy Christmas, everyone! Hope you had a wonderful day - as I did! - and are still enjoying the Festive Season!

Today, I’m participating in The Next Big Thing blog hop, which sees writers answering questions about their works in progress, and tagging other writers to follow on. Last week, I was tagged by the wonderful, multi-talented and intriguingly named K.A. M’Lady, whom you can catch up with here:

And you can read all about her Next Big Thing here. Many thanks to K for her tag!

Now, the next part of my job is to tag the next authors and their blogs – which was doubly difficult because a) I admire so many and b) everyone’s so busy over Christmas and New Year! However, I'm happy to say I have manage to pin down one of my favourites, my old friend Kate Rothwell/Summer Devon who writes beautiful, unusual and charming historicals (Kate) as well as highly imaginative, erotic paranormals (Summer). Summer's next book is an m/m contemporary called Taming the Bander, published in February by Samhain.

You can track her down here: 

and here: http://katerothwell.blogspot.com - where you can check out her Next Big Thing post next Wednesday, 2nd January 2012.

And so back to my next big thing, Blood of Angels... Here are my interview answers:

What is the working title of your book?

I’ve just been proofing the final files for BLOOD OF ANGELS.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

BLOOD OF ANGELS is the natural progression of a story that began with BLOOD ON SILK, the first of my Awakened by Blood trilogy. I’m now writing a spin off series called Blood Hunters, of which BLOOD OF ANGELS is the second book. It grew largely out of the previous stories and characters which got under my skin. Although I have to confess that Angyalka, my agoraphobic vampire heroine, actually grew out of my own realization that with writing so much I was beginning to avoid going out of the house! So I took Angyalka’s issues a stage or too further J.

What genre does your book fall under?

Paramormal/vampire romance – on the steamy side!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I always find this a really hard question to answer! Very seldom do I see my characters as like any actor I know. So I suppose I have to pick actors that change dramtically with each role. Johnny Depp in understated mode could play Istvan, my scientific yet kick-ass hero. Not sure about Angyalka – although Hungarian, she has a style I associate with France J, but I can’t think of a specific actress!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Obsession... a wounded hunter, a damaged vampire

Where do you plan to submit your book, or will you self published it?

I’ll be self-publishing it - I’m self-publishing all the Blood Hunters series

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I can’t remember! A first draft of a full length novel can take anything from three weeks (my fastest ever!) to three months. I think this one was probably seven or eight weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Goodness, there are so many vampire romances out there that I wouldn’t know where to start! Plus, I suppose we all like to think our own story is unique J. The best comparison is probably with my other stories, especially BLOOD GUILT, the first book in this series, and with the prequel Awakened by Blood trilogy, BLOOD ON SILK, BLOOD SIN and BLOOD ETERNAL.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Hmm – a combination of things and people! As I say, this book is a natural progression from a story that keeps moving forward in my head. As such, I have to acknowledge my agent, Robert Gottlieb, on whose advice I first wrote BLOOD ON SILK from a long-standing germ of an idea. And my husband, who's actually the inspiration for at least part of all my heroes, including the inventive and off-the-wall Istvan of BLOOD OF ANGELS J.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

 Vampires - both scary and sexy! Need I say more? :) Well, maybe I should! 

BLOOD OF ANGELS is another stage in the saga readers might have read or at least heard of before, and my world seems to grow with every story. It features wounded and yet strong characters whom readers may have met in the past. Plus, there's a hot enemies to lovers tale - always irresistible to me! And meeting old friends such as Saloman, Elizabeth, Maximilian and Mihaela. And of course new readers to this world have a new vampire series to catch up on and follow :) 

Oh and it should be out in January 2013!


Monday, 17 December 2012

Party Winners

Just taking a moment amidst the Christmas madness around here to thank everyone who came to the party, readers and authors, commenters and lurkers! Obviously a special thank you to all our generous guest authors who partied with us. It was a wonderful party and I enjoyed every moment :).

And a quick word about the contests. Winners will be announced by each author in the Comments section of their post, so don't forget to check back to see if it's you :). It's up to individual authors when they choose to close their contests and pick their winners.

However, I can announce that the Changeling Press winner is: bn100candg. So, many congratulations to her! She's won a series of Changeling Christmas short stories, and she's chosen the White Hot Christmas set.

And finally, I'd like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, (or indeed which ever other holiday you celebrate this season!), and I look forward to seeing you again in the New Year!

Marie x

Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas of the Damned by Marie Treanor

My first Christmas story for Changeling Press was about miracles, though not really religious ones :). Like my new story, Damned Santa, Christmas of the Damned is set in the ruined, post-nuclear apocalypse city which began with Loving the Wolf.

Sol, my unlikely hero, performs miracles every day simply by carrying out his duties as bouncer at the City of the Damned's most popular nightclub. No one even guesses what he does, until one Christmas Eve, he rescues a wounded wolf who's more damaged than anyone else can see...

Short story available now at Changeling Press 

No one remembers why, but every year on the same cold December night, the survivors of the ruined City of the Damned gather to celebrate a miracle that never happens...

When a wounded wolf appears outside the city’s most popular nightclub, only Sol, the tough doorman, recognizes that the wolf is more than she seems.  But then, so is Sol.  A man of few words who hides his gift and his generosity, only he can unlock the wolf's lost humanity.

And as it turns out, the meeting of these two remarkable creatures is just one of the miracles of this Christmas night.


     The fur of her head was silky soft. She stiffened under his touch but didn’t move away. He began to caress her, stroking her ears and neck, feeling the matted fur and dried blood. She didn’t wince when he touched her wounds. He closed his eyes and let it crash over him, the pain of her broken rib and bruised leg, the knife cuts in her neck and back. He could bear that easily. What overwhelmed him was her internal agony, the memories of violations and terror and grief; the impossibly conflicting fears of human compassion and animal violence locked inside her.

     Deeper and deeper he fell into her pain until he couldn’t quite muffle a groan of anguish, but still he held on, feeling now the wild confusion of unsatisfied lusts within her.

     The wolf had never mated. She had half-killed a male wolf who had approached her too forcefully in her last season. A loner like him, but seeking, and fearing solitude at the same time.

     Sol’s head fell forward. He held on grimly, taking it all, until gradually, he felt her wonder, and slowly, carefully, he could begin to disperse the pain, deal with it. Eyes still closed, he held his hands over her wounded neck and back, reached down between her forelegs, seeking and finding the broken rib.

     When he opened his eyes, the wolf still stared at him, wonder and gratitude and new, desperate fear fighting for dominance in her amber eyes.

     “Come back,” he whispered. “It’s time.” And pressed his lips to her soft, furry head.

     A whimper escaped her. There was more pain, unbelievable, unbearable, but he took that too, head thrown back against the sofa for support while the wolf’s body twisted and changed, limbs lengthening, bones altering shape and position. The fur began to vanish from her shoulders and back, her face shortened and re-formed, hairless and white as her long, slender limbs.

     A lovely woman knelt between his knees, trembling.

Commenters on all Changeling Press posts - including this one! - will be entered to win a past Changeling Christmas series! 

Who the Punk Do You Think You Are? By Megan Slayer

Silly title for a silly post, right? You’re right. I like to write characters that are human and by that I mean they have nuances that make them different and can get them in to trouble. Pixie is one of those characters.

What’s so bad about Pix? Well, she’s in charge of the teddy bear line. You know, make the bears, fluff them, put a nice bow on them and see that they go on their way onto the child on the nice list. Sounds like a nice, cushy job, right?

Pixie puts her own spin on those bears. Some are tie-dyed. Some are black with a neon green bow and pink feet. Some have tattoos. Some have piercings. Yep, they are punk bears. Santa’s wondered about Pixie for years. He’s reprimanded her for not following protocol. But then he’s completely shocked when those bears, the bears he thinks won’t end up under any Christmas tree, are requested. Yep, they are.

For all her bravado, Pixie is kind of like her bears. She puts up a good front and hopes someone will end up requesting her. But she hasn’t had any takers. Up on the North Pole, her originality isn’t as cool as she wishes it was.

That’s where Glow and Nitro come in. Glow is the punk band she loves and creates fan art for. The band is her one outlet for creativity when she gets into trouble. Nitro? He’s the one person who understands her...except he’s in Ohio and she’s at the North Pole.

Will these two get together? Only time will tellwell, time and Christmas Glow. Grab a copy! You’ll be glad you did. J

And now a little more about Christmas Glow.

One concert changed her mind, but can one night truly change her life?

Pixie Elf's days of designing punk teddy bears just aren't cutting it. She wants more, including the sexy radio jockey she met at a Glow concert. That is, if he's up for grabs.

Nitro Hicks loves playing the latest rock tunes, but he can't get a certain elf off his mind. Does he have what it takes to rock her world for the long haul?

Magic happens in the Christmas Glow.


And now a little bit about me!

When she's not writing the stories in her head, Megan Slayer can be found luxuriating in her hot tub with her two vampire Cabana boys, Luke and Jeremy. She has the tendency to run a tad too far with her muse, so she has to hide in the head of her alter ego, but the boys don't seem to mind.

When she’s not obsessing over her whip collection, she can be found picking up her kidlet from school. She enjoys writing in all genres, but writing about men in love suits her fancy best.

Currently hanging out every Wednesday and Friday at the Menagerie Authors site, hunting Hotties for the Saturday posts, and working on the next great story brewing in her head! 

The cabana boys are willing to serve, unless she needs them. She always need them. So be nice to Javier or he will bite--on command.

She also masquerades under the name Wendi Zwaduk and is published through Changeling Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Excerpt from Christmas Glow:

Santa waved his hand. "Okay. The reason you're here is your Christmas list. You've been original, yet invaluable on the stuffed animal production floor." He sighed. "I see you'd like two concert tickets. Glow? Seems like I do something involving them every year."

"Yes. There's someone very special I want to invite." Pixie narrowed her eyes. If she didn't just ask, she'd never get the courage to go through with her plan. "That's where being your helper on the sleigh this year would help out."

His brows rose. "I knew it wasn't something as simple as going on Stub Hub. Lay it out for me."

Pixie sank down into the nearest chair. She'd gotten past the first hurdle, getting into the office and asking. Next obstacle. "My birthday present to myself was the ticket to see Glow in Montreal. That and a plane ticket. Anyway, I met this person there. We clicked and started talking. I had to head home and so did he, but we continued chatting online. I'm putting my heart out there, but I think this is our chance to have the magic from Montreal once more."

She picked at the white fuzz lining the edge of her skirt. He hadn't replied and barely moved. Santa lowered his gaze to the desk. He still didn't say anything. Her heart sank. The longer he stayed quiet, the worse her chances of the wish coming true.

Santa pressed a button on his desk. "Mrs. Claus, I'm in need of your perspective on something." He folded his thick arms and leaned back in his seat. "I'm over my head."

Moments later, his wife strolled into the office. "Hi, Pix. More bears?"

Pixie groaned. Damn bears, anyway.

"What's up?" Mrs. Claus perched on Santa's knee. "This has got to be relationship stuff. You never ask me for help with the production floor."

"Later. I've got some ideas I want to... send your way." He wriggled his brows.

Pixie groaned again. If she didn't think gagging would jeopardize her wish, she might have done that, too.

"We're embarrassing Pix." Mrs. Claus giggled. "Male or female?"

"A man, I believe." Santa tapped the keys on his computer. "Looks like a Nitro Hicks. What a name... Nitro? You've got a thing for a guy named Nitro?"

"Why don't you check on the run of tricycles?" Mrs. Claus stood. "They've been a little slow down there."

Santa's shoulders dropped. "Fine." He climbed out of his chair. "But I'll remember this later."

"You'd better." Mrs. Claus took his vacated seat and waited until he left the room to speak. "You and Nitro, aka Nolan Hicks. Hot and heavy? Spit it out with all the details."

Pixie always had liked Mrs. Claus's no-nonsense style. "It's like this. We met at the concert, but I'm shy. He spoke first and made me feel like I belonged there. We talked, laughed and shared some secrets. I mentioned I might want something more than what I have here in the North Pole. He drove me to the airport. We kissed, talked and had to go our separate ways. Thrilling."

"He's easy on the eyes, I'll agree, and if he kisses the way he looks then, yes, it was probably thrilling. What did he say when he found out about the elf thing?"

"Cleveland was cold like the North Pole. He could dig the chill."

"Cute on all accounts."

"We've chatted and Skyped since the concert. Lots of times." She wasn't about to admit to how hot the chat sessions got. "I'm scared I'm really putting myself out there, but I have to give it a chance."

Commenters on all Changeling Press posts - including this one! - will be entered to win a past Changeling Christmas series! 

Inspiration behind Her Christmas Elf by Sarah Makela

Santa’s Helpers: Her Christmas Elf
By Sarah Mäkelä

Traveling alone in Finland around Christmas isn’t exactly what Vera Hayes had imagined she’d be doing. When her longtime boyfriend dumps her before the trip at the last minute, she decides to go anyways. However, she gets lost in a forest in Lapland and starts to panic until she runs into a magical man who looks suspiciously like an elf without the pointy ears. Pekka, one of Santa’s elves, soothes away her worry and helps her find her way back to her cabin, giving her a Christmas Eve to remember.


Winter is my favorite season. I love snow and cold weather. Although, I don’t get either of those nearly enough. So when I saw the call for Santa’s Helper stories, I knew I had to write one.

My story, Her Christmas Elf, came about after doing research on Finland. I’d been researching faeries and elves for another story, when I stumbled upon the Finnish Christmas variety. They were a lot different than the version we’re all used to. They fascinated me since they were seen more as dwarflike humans as opposed to actual elves. Of course, my hero has magical abilities, which make him look normal unless his concentration wavers.

I’ve only been to southern Finland a few times, once even during the Christmas season! Unfortunately, I didn’t see any sexy Christmas elves. But I digress. I set the story up north since Rovaniemi, Finland–which is in Lapland–is supposedly where Santa lives at Santa Claus Village. How perfect for my Santa’s Helpers story! *grin*

My hero and heroine are in the forests outside of Rovaniemi. My hero is watching a herd of reindeer, while my heroine is utterly lost and starting to get really cold. I hope you’ll read it to find out how the story ends up!


Sarah Mäkelä lives in North Carolina with her husband and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, computer and console games, and traveling all over the world. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapters. Find her online at www.sarahmakela.com.


Shivering, Vera Hayes watched the soft snow falling around her. The landscape was so pretty and so dangerous at this chilling temperature, especially considering she had no clue where she was. She'd gone on a walk when the sun had been up, but now darkness rapidly descended on the forest.

Damn it!

This trip had been nothing but trouble, and she'd been stupid to actually take it. Her ex-boyfriend Steve had wanted this, not her. She'd gone ahead with it thinking it would help free her somehow, but this was far from freeing.

Vera stomped her feet and huddled deeper into her coat, which was starting to feel a little too thin for the current weather. She leaned against a birch tree and hunched her shoulders, beyond frustrated with her current predicament.

Snow dusted her, and she scanned the forest again. Hope failed her, and she set off walking again. Damn, damn, damn.

Faint rumbling sounded in the distance behind her and she stopped. The noise grew louder until she could identify it.

Hooves. Lots and lots of hooves. Adrenaline flooded her veins, but her body froze in place from fear.

In the distance, she spotted a herd of reindeer running in her direction. A quick look around her showed no trees with low-hanging branches. So much for easy climbing. She reached for the closest birch, its bark broken by the frost. She wrapped her hands around it and began to climb.

Behind her, the noise grew louder. Among the trees, a herd of reindeer led by a massive gray bull trampled its way through the forest. Snow and frost caved beneath their hooves with almost no resistance.

The glance startled her, and her feet slipped down the birch. Panic struck her chest as she dropped to the ground.

To her left, she saw a small clearing among the trees. She tried to sprint through the almost knee-deep snow, but her progress was too slow. With the herd not far behind, she screamed. When would this nightmare end?

Just as she reached the clearing, a man grabbed her by the arm. He pulled her toward him then and shoved her against a tree, his firm body nestled against her back.

Her breath came out in pants, and not only from her running. "Let me go," she yelled, fear audible in her voice.

"Hush. The herd will ignore you." The man's low, accented voice calmed her a little.

For a moment, Vera considered kicking him and racing away, but his grip tightened on her. He pressed her tighter to the tree. His body molded to hers as if they were puzzle pieces. She only had a second to ponder that as the herd of reindeer stampeded through the clearing.

The large reindeer bull slowed to a stop beside them. Intelligence gleamed in its black, glaring eyes as it waited for the rest of the herd to pass.

"She won't hunt your kin, Old One. I'll look after her," the man said. The reindeer turned its gaze to the man and snorted, shaking its head.

Vera trembled. The cold and numbness she'd been fighting against was draining away her energy. She barely made out the man saying something she couldn't catch. Her attention now focused on the huge bull that stood close enough for her to reach out her hand and touch. The other reindeer were easily her height from hoof to head, but this one made them look small in comparison.

The reindeer stared at her then blew a cloud of steam from its nostrils, obviously not impressed, before galloping after the rest of the herd.

She watched it go until it was barely in sight, then the man grabbed her shoulders. He spun her around, and his gaze dipped to take her in. His expression soured, and he returned his gaze to hers. "What are you doing out here dressed like that?"

Surprise at his audacity had her pulling away from him. His clothing didn't exactly inspire confidence in his sense of fashion either. From what she could tell, his clothing looked to be made of animal pelt. She placed her glove-covered hand against his chest and marveled at the sleek fur.

He snagged her wrist yet didn't move her hand. "There's a storm coming. You shouldn't be out here. You'll die." His gaze whipped over her again, and he grimaced. "Where are you staying?" His words held a melodic lilt that was so pleasant.

"At the cabins." Her teeth chattered a bit more, and she huddled in on herself.

He gave her a quizzical stare then cursed an almost lyrical string of sound. "You're far from safety. What are you doing way out here?"

What did he mean? She hadn't been walking for that long. Or maybe it just hadn't seemed so.

He scooped her into his arms, and she considered falling asleep in the warmth of his grip. But she didn't know anything about him, and after what had just happened with the reindeer...

Commenters on all Changeling Press posts - including this one! - will be entered to win a past Changeling Christmas series! 

Lone Star Angel by Linda Carroll-Bradd

In my historical Christmas story, Lone Star Angel, I wrote of a heroine, Carnelian Wendell, who just wanted to spend the holiday in a safe place. For five years, she’d been estranged from her large family of five siblings, parents and grandparents back in Houston. Her teenaged hasty decision to run off with an adventurous man turned to tragedy when he was gunned down during a stagecoach robbery. A visit to her sister who is a cook on a small west Texas ranch seems timely, as well as a great place to hide out. Carni is as full of life and activity as hero Luc Tarrant is quiet and set in his routine. Times are tough although Luc would say his ranch is getting by. Carni needs to shake off her bad experience and looks for ways to make a celebration. She turns the household upside down by changing the menu, creating holiday decorations, and bringing color into his life. Luc is helpless against her infectious spirit.


“Whoa, Star, just a little breeze. Nothing more.” Carni Wendell pulled the reins to the left, wondering if she should have paid the stable master to drive her out to the Bar-T Ranch. This time she promised herself she wouldn’t be a burden as a visiting relation, so she’d hired the horse and cart for the month.

In the distance, dark clouds chased the afternoon sun from the base of a craggy mountain. A chilly wind blew across the west Texas hard-packed prairie, twisting a dirt devil and tossing stray tumbleweeds across the path. Star stopped and nickered as an apparition appeared on the horizon.

A dark horse with a rider cantered in her direction and stopped not ten feet away, scraping up a dust cloud.

“Take a wrong turn, lady?”

The broad-shouldered man’s voice was deep and full of suspicion.

“Easy, Star.” With effort, she pulled the prancing horse back to an uneasy stand and turned her attention to the stranger. His hat shaded his eyes, but couldn’t hide a strong jaw covered with beard stubble and a tight mouth pulled down at the edges.

A loose tendril of hair tickled her forehead. With a gloved hand, she tucked it under the knitted scarf wrapped over her ears and neck to fight off the chilly air. “I’m looking for the Bar-T Ranch. Would you know if I’m on the right lane? Can’t really call this uneven, pot-holed path a road.” She paused, expecting the silent stranger to answer.

Leather creaked at his shift in position. He rested a forearm across the pommel and stared.

“The stable master in Wayside Gap told me to turn south at the double fencepost. Not that I’m too good with directions, but those were the only double posts I saw.”

“Thought I recognized Einhardt’s mare.”

What? The man commented on ownership of a horse, not about the boundaries for a cattle ranch? She waited for his confirmation she was headed in the right direction. “So, I did take the correct turn?”

“Could be.” The man stood in the stirrups to peer over her shoulder. “What’s your business here?”

Carni’s gaze was pulled to the muscles straining the thighs of his muddy denims. The man obviously worked hard for a living. How dare a ranch hand question her? Rudeness was not to be tolerated. Grasping the reins with one hand, she reached under the cart seat to collect the velvet reticule lying at her feet. “I’m tired and I’m cold. As wonderful as our conversation has been, I need to get to the Bar-T ranch. I’ll pay you four bits to direct me to the ranch house.”

She dug out the coins and held them suspended over the side of the cart, staring with a narrowed gaze at the man’s shadowed face. When he sat as still as a statute with only his eyes tracking her movements, her temper simmered. However, discussing her personal business with a ranch hand was unthinkable. She shook her hand and raised an eyebrow in his direction. “Okay, six bits.” Another coin was added to her hand.

The wind teased her skirts, flipping back the hem to reveal several inches of a red petticoat.

His gaze flicked to the exposed lingerie and the right side of his mouth quirked for just a second.

She saw his reaction and steamed even more. He’d taken advantage of the wind’s mischief instead of averting his gaze like a gentleman would. “A dollar for the directions. Take it now, I won’t be offering more.” Money well spent to remove herself from the belligerent company of this quiet man.

Several moments passed before he clucked out of the side of his mouth and urged the horse forward until abreast of the cart. “Whoa, Hades.” He held a cupped hand under her outstretched one, looked up from under the brim of his black hat and winked.

Heat flashed through her at his bold gesture. With a quick movement, she released her hand and let the clinking coins drop into his gloved hand. “Your boss will be hearing about your surly attitude.”

He shrugged and wheeled the horse, guiding it to the middle of the path. “Follow me.” Without a look over his shoulder, he trotted up the small rise and disappeared over the top.

TWRP buy link:             http://bit.ly/10JW8mh
Amazon buy link:           http://amzn.to/10JWlWA
B&N buy link:                http://bit.ly/Yk7S19

CONTEST: On December 15, I will draw the name from those who either subscribe to my blog, Musing About The Writing Life http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com or follow my fan Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Carroll-Bradd-author/440814942635289. Mention “The Romantic Theme Party” and this novella title for a chance to win your choice of a free download (if outside of USA) or a print copy.

Interview with Ayla Ruse: Zarakion's Tip

Zenobia Renquist interviews Ayla Ruse about her very interesting take on Christmas deliveries to Hell. Yup, you read that right. Someone in Hell made Santa’s Nice List. I’m not sure who, but I know it couldn’t have been Zarakion. *eg* So I asked Ayla.

I’m curious who in Hell would be getting presents? Or is that a secret for another time?

That is an excellent question, and the answer is one I’m holding close right now. I have a few ideas for future revelations regarding what kinds of things the creatures in Hell could possibly want.

You tease! Fine. I respect that. How did you come up with this plot?

When Changeling announced it was gathering proposals for this year’s Christmas stories, I jumped. I’d never written demons before. I think at the time there was a bit of talk about demons on the loops, so demons were at the forefront of my mind. The only problem then became, how would I incorporate a demon with Christmas in a fun and loving way? With the theme being Santa’s Helpers, a delivery service popped up next. From there, I created the scenario of a substitute receiving demon and a newbie delivery elf. They each don’t know the “rules,” so everything’s fair game for them.

This sounds like the process I used last year for my White Hot Christmas title. In other words, the Changeling Press plot bunnies at work, as usual. Will you be revisiting this world and these characters? (the answer better be yes, or else)

Hahaha. I’ve let the idea tumble around, and it’s come to my attention that delivery services often operate throughout the year. Nothing concrete yet, but yes, there will be something more from Taryn and Zarakion in the future. As for revisiting this world, that’s a definite yes. I’m writing a story now for the upcoming Soul Debt series with Changeling, and a portion of the tale takes place through one of the Gates of Hell.

Ohhhh. I’m going to enjoy reading that one. I will definitely keep an eye out for that. So, what do Taryn and Zarakion do in the off season… besides each other?

Is there anything better to do? *g* Seriously, they develop their relationship just like any other. They talk, hang out, and I’ve recently discovered that Taryn is a great cook and loves to sneak treats to Zarakion.

I love when characters reveal more about themselves to the author so she can share with the rest of the class, as it were. I look forward to seeing more of those two. They were great together. What can readers expect from you next and when?

I’ll have a story for the Soul Debt series out in spring of 2013. After that will be a Contemporary Menage with Total-e-Bound. My plate is lining up from there. It’s just a matter of what story screams the loudest to be written first. I will admit, with the flash fictions Changeling does every Friday, my cup of story lines runneth over.

I completely sympathize. Changeling’s Flash Fiction challenges have spawned enough plot bunnies that I’m planning for 2014 already. Great interview, Ayla, and thanks for sharing insight into the story and the below excerpt. For those who want to experience a non-traditional Christmas, HOT as… well Hell Erotic Romance, check out Zarakion’s Tip.

Excerpt from Santa’s Helpers: Zarakion’s Tip by Ayla Ruse

Zarakion stood just beyond the light's edge when that dainty morsel of flesh stuck out a hand, palm up. His mouth dropped. Every demon understood that an offered, open palm meant the female wanted to fuck him.

As a Cha'horz demon, he had a job to guard the fragile border of Hell. He'd interacted with all kinds of beings. Today was the first time, however, he'd run into a creature like the little female before him. And that she knew of demon inferences shocked and excited him.

She still held out her slender hand. He could see the lines tracing her palm and he wondered again how that pale flesh would feel next to his skin. Would it burn, or feel like that legendary snowflake he'd referred to?
 Then she did the impossible. She curled her fingers a few times, as if showing her impatience.

"I'll be blessed," Zarakion cursed. His straining cock could take no more. He wasn't sure how they would work together -- she was impossibly tiny -- but he'd find a way.

In a quick move, Zarakion stepped into the light, wrapped a large hand around her torso, yanked her up to him, and slicked his long tongue from her waist to her neck.

The tips of his forked tongue burned when it her touched her flesh. Like strong peppers, her skin held a taste that hurt but called him back for more. He opened his mouth for another striking taste, but sexual craving flooded his body and he dropped to his knees.

Snowflake had wrapped her hands around his outer horns, the largest across his forehead. Out of the seven lining his brow, the ones at the ends linked directly to his cock, and her firm grip upon the horns felt like she squeezed him without mercy.

"Let go," he cried out, positive he'd come on the spot if she didn't. He couldn't yank her away for just the same reason.

"You let go first," she demanded, even though her breath was uneven and her entire body smelled like sex.

He set her on her feet and regrettably unwrapped his hand from her body as she removed her fingers from his horns. It was now he realized exactly how small she was compared to him. His palm had covered her entire back, and his fingers had reached around to her front. Her breasts had pillowed themselves between his fingers, and he couldn't resist tightening his knuckles over her nipples as he removed his hand. She gasped and shivered, her large blue eyes shining as she stared up at him.

When they separated, he blinked to see that his entire body stood twice the size of hers. She tipped her head back, exposing the pale skin of the neck he wanted to taste again.

"You touched me," she said, her voice full of wonder.

"I plan to touch you again."

"But you're not allowed to do that."

"I don't know where you were, but I just did."

"No, I mean, I was told Receiving demons couldn't touch others."

He barked out a laugh. "You might be right, but I'm a Cha'horz demon." His grin grew wicked and his voice dropped. "Isn't this your lucky day?"

He had lied to her. He couldn't touch her any time he wanted. There were some rules to follow. Few, but there were some. One stated there could be no physical contact unless the delivery creature initiated or requested contact. Her open palm sure as hell was an invite, but now he'd have to wait for another.

He shook his head at her defiance and stalked out of her pool of light and back to the darkness and the desk he'd been given. He reclined in the large seat and stared at her. Who could blame him? The way her arms crossed lifted her small breasts. He flicked his forked tongue over his lips, spying her hard nipples pressed against the blood-red shirt she wore. Her green skirt rode high on her thighs, exposing slender legs encased in soft green stockings -- that ended at the tops of her thighs? His blood heated when she shifted and pale skin peeked out. She tossed her head and long, silky, white hair flipped across her back, revealing pointy ears.

Wait. An Elf? He'd heard of such creatures, but never had one tried to breach the borders, had they? At least, not the points of Hell he usually guarded. Still, he'd heard rumors of these creatures... and of how sensual they could be.

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Tonya Kappes

Happy holidays! This time of year makes me (and a lot of others) a bit more sentimental.

My family celebrates Christmas and everything that comes with it, making gingerbread houses, putting up a Christmas tree or seven (yes! I have seven in my house…is that weird?), candy making, cookie decorating, skiing, snow tubing, gift giving (the wrapping I’m not a fan of), eating the candy and cookies we made, church, and family gatherings. But the one tradition I love most is going to pick out the live tree.

It’s become a tradition for me and my family (hubby and three teenage boys) to go pick out the tree, strap it on the car, bring it home (yes, you can picture Christmas Vacation and I’m definitely Clark…and we do have a few Uncle Eddie’s in the family), and immediately put it up.

The homemade Christmas ornaments my boys have made over the years are so much fun to go through and we laugh while Bing Crosby and old school Alvin and the Chipmunks play in the background…and yes, a plate of homemade cookies and apple cider to go with it.

Then we get to the box my guys have titled: Mom’s Special Ornament. It is only one ornament that I get to place on the tree. It takes my breath away every time I see it.

Rudolph…the little guy that stands about three-inches tall and is missing his little black eyes, takes his place~front and center.

Rudolph was given to me, now over thirty-five years ago, from my grandmother. She was and remains such an inspiration to me. We had gone to an antique store and she bought me Rudolph.

My grandmother didn’t drive and couldn’t read. But she could tell a great story.

“You see,” she looked at me with sadness in her eyes but a smile on her face, “I’ve overcome my share of things. I married your papa when I was fourteen, birthed nine children, and buried three. Sometimes life can throw you some really tough lesson.”

Her long skinny fingers fanned out, each one had more wrinkles than the other, and Rudolph lay in her palm.
“Rudolph had to overcome many things. He was made fun of. He was different. You, Tonya, you are different.” She took my hand and held it palm up. Gently, she placed Rudolph in my hand. “You have talent beyond belief. You have a great strength, go-get ‘em attitude that many young people don’t have and will be intimidated by. You are creative beyond your years.”

I watched her wondering what she was thinking as she stared out the window. I could tell she was thinking of a time long ago. I couldn’t help but believe she was telling me a story of herself.

But either way, all it took was that three-inch plastic reindeer to inspire everything in my life, to overcome any and everything that stepped into the way of me reaching my dreams.

Tonya is an Amazon Movers and Shakers, and self-published International bestselling author. She writes humorous cozy mystery and women's fiction that involves quirky characters in quirky situations.

Splitsville.com, the first novel in the Olivia Davis Mystery Series, is a double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories.

Carpe Bead 'em is the winner in Amazon's eFestival of Words in the Women's Fiction/Chick-lit Category.
She travel to various writer's groups giving workshops on marketing and promoting no matter where you are in your career, and a self publishing.

Become a member of Tonya's STREET TEAM by clicking HERE! It's a gathering place of readers who love Tonya Kappes novels and Tonya gives away monthly prizes! To sign up for Tonya's STREET TEAM, newsletter, view book trailer, and upcoming news, check out Tonya's website, Tonyakappes.blogspot.com.

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Excerpt from A New Tradition, a Christmas short story:

Chapter One

“Are you sure you don’t want to come? “ Jenna asked, packing up for the early pre-holiday filled night. I watched as she gathered all the goodies she got from her Secret Santa gift exchange.

“No thank you,” I smiled, turning around and peering out over the city lights. They lit up Main Street like the white lights on a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree that I would not be decorating this year. This was the first Christmas that I was going to be alone. ALONE.

“I don’t know.” She leaned against the door frame of my office. Her normally straight blonde hair was off-set with curls that framed her face, as worry set deep in her hazel eyes. “It’s not healthy to spend Christmas alone when you have a slew of girlfriends that want to be with you.”

“I will be fine.” I turned around and picked up the stack of papers sitting on my desk. “I have that big conference call with Walter Bassett. Plus, my date with Audrey.”

“Mr. Bassett can wait until after the holidays.” Jenna crossed her arms. “He has made us wait plenty of times.”

She was right. Mr. Bassett was a big pill to swallow when it came to business. He owned several casinos around the world and used our little firm to help decorate them. Help, as in help with a little light fixture here, another there. But the day had come when Mr. Bassett finally gave my little firm, The Design Studio, the entire account on the new gambling boat in Biloxi, Mississippi, and we were going to finalize the deal on Christmas morning during our Skype meeting. That in itself was enough incentive to spend Christmas alone.

Granted, the boat casino wasn’t Vegas, but it was bigger than any job we had gotten in Mulberry End, Connecticut. And with the wonders of technology, Mr. Bassett had no clue he was doing business with a tiny business located in a town of ten-thousand people.

“The gang is going to meet around 7 PM down at the Rum and Monkey for the honky-tonk Christmas Eve party to ring in Christmas. And it’s not too late to have our annual Audrey party before we meet.” She referred to our annual watching of Breakfast at Tiffany’s where we all dressed up in our finest ball gowns and tiaras while sipping wine. “Tomorrow you can come to my family Christmas dinner. We’d love to have you.”

The gang consisted of five of my best friends who all grew up in Mulberry End. Of course we all went our separate ways when we went to college, but came home shortly after graduation. It was slim picking in Mulberry End’s single men department, which explains why none of us had a husband or boyfriend.

“It sounds like a great time, but it’s not every year that I have the opportunity to spend the holidays alone.” I took the Breakfast at Tiffany’s DVD out of my computer bag and held it up. “This year, Audrey and I are going to be spending Christmas alone.”

Not that I didn’t enjoy Christmas with the Englehardt’s (my family) and my tradition with my friends, but us being apart one Christmas wasn’t going to kill anyone. Besides, it wasn’t like I didn’t see my family on a bi-weekly basis and my friends on a weekly basis.

Plus, I didn’t have to hear about Aunt Edna’s new dentures, Uncle Bill’s bunions, or cute baby Sally’s first green poopy diapers.

Yes. Those were the conversations we had around our Christmas table. And I am determined that this year was going to be a relaxing one.

Before she left, Jenna turned around. “If you change your mind, you can stop on down at the Rum and Monkey.”

“I won’t.”

“And is your cell phone charged?” Jenna was almost as good as my mother. “I don’t like you traveling to that remote hunk of woods with five inches of snow on the ground.”

“It’s fine.” I assured her. “And my dad made sure the cabin was stocked with plenty of firewood before they left.”

“I can’t believe they left you alone on Christmas. The Englehardt’s love Christmas.” She stomped back to her receptionist desk just outside my office door. With her hands full, she called over her shoulder, “The girls are going to miss your rendition of Santa Baby during Rum and Monkey’s karaoke hour.”

“I won’t be alone. I have Henry.” I pointed to my little white Persian cat curled on the brown leather couch in the corner of my office. Yes, I named him Henry after My Fair Ladies’, Henry Higgins.

“You can only watch so much Audrey Hepburn.”

She didn’t just say that! No one can ever have enough of Audrey! “Please don’t tell me you packed the Audrey outfit.” Her gaze darkened when she realized that I had, in fact, packed the black dress and tiara I love to put on when I watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “Really, I think you need help. I mean professional help.”

“I did buy a new book on my Kindle. It’s charged and ready to go.” I knew that I would fall fast asleep before I got in a few pages. I had been working so hard on the Bassett deal that when my head hit the pillow, I was out.

“I will call you tomorrow. Now get out of here.” I glance down at my watch. Noon. If I hurried, I could be at the cabin by two. Just in time to start a fire, put the small turkey and all the fixings in the refrigerator and fix my annual salmon dinner for tonight. Just because I wasn’t having Christmas with my family didn’t mean that I couldn’t have Christmas dinner with Audrey.

“Tell your parents Merry Christmas if they call you,” Jenna said before heading out of the office.

This was a once in a lifetime trip for my parents. Recently, my father had retired from the lumberyard. He started out sorting nuts and bolts for Mr. Baker, the owner of Mulberry Lumber, at the age of eighteen, moved up in the company and retired after forty-five years.

As an appreciation for all dads’ hard work, Mr. Baker’s family gave him and mom an all-expense paid trip to London, England. Mom had always wanted to spend the holidays abroad. Since I’m their only child and grown, I encouraged them to go this year. I had the meeting with Mr. Bassett coming up on Christmas morning through Skype.  He had insisted it be on Christmas morning. It shouldn’t have surprised me, because he was always as cold as ice in his emails.  Scrooge!

I was looking forward to seeing him. Of course, I had googled him, but he was nowhere to be found. I had heard through the grapevine that he never attended the openings of any of his casinos or the parties. He’s a bit of a recluse from what I understand.

I’d put money on it that he was on some beautiful Caribbean island where everything you could possibly need was at his fingertips. And I wanted a piece of that pie. I was going to have to work hard to get it. That was why I was more than happy to head to our family cabin in the woods for a relaxing couple of days with Audrey.

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