Book Name: Chestnuts Roasting Anthology
Authors Names: Toni Griffin, Angel Martinez, Silvia Violet, Freddy MacKay
Four authors, four different perspective on the holidays. Now for something a little different. Instead of a full author interview, I asked each of the authors one question. Where did your inspiration come from? Here are their answers…
Yes. Everywhere. Everything. A conversation, a painting, a moment on the street, Freddy daring me to try something – there are no limits or predictable patterns for inspiration. I use a lot of science news and folktale as starting points, but those are certainly not my only inspirations.
My story is set in Baton Rouge. I lived there for six years so all the celebrating Christmas when it still feely summery outside comes from personal experience. A scene with a barista asking out a guy who considered himself straight just popped into my head one day. I wrote it down, knowing I’d use it eventually and when I started thinking about Christmas stories, there it was.
I decided I wanted to write a fantasy, so I went shopping for mythical creatures. I like to go for the more obscure, lesser used/known creatures. When I found my “demon” I was hooked because I knew I hit something different and fun for me to write.
My story, Wreath of Fire, is book two in my Smokey Mountain Bears series. It’s my only series set outside of Australia and the reason for that is in 2012 I visited Gatlinburg TN and the surrounding areas. I met some amazing people, had the time of my life in one of the most relaxing, picturesque settings I could have ever imagined. This place needed to be put down on paper. When the idea for the Cabin for Two anthology was being thrown around I knew exactly what I wanted to write. A Bear in the Woods was born. It’s taken me a little while to get back to the characters and write book two, but I can guarantee you won’t have to wait as long for book three.
Author Group Bio:
Mischief Corner Books is an organization of superheroes… no, it’s a platinum-album techno-fusion group…no, hold on a sec here… Ah, yes. Mischief Corner is a diverse group of authors who met on a mountain in Tennessee and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we’d settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead. In addition to making mayhem, we publish books with a diverse range of genres and topics… we live to break molds. MCB. Giving voice to LGBTQ fiction.
Mischief Corner Books Website and Store
MCB Facebook page
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Cover Artist: Catherine Dair
Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it’s only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles.
Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 – Toni Griffin:
Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.
A Christmas Cactus for the General – Angel Martinez
Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.
Holly Jolly – Silvia Violet
I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it? I’m also not a fan of Christmas. Too many years “celebrating” with my Bible-thumping family ruined the holiday for me. So what if I envy all these cheerful souls dashing about with smiles on their faces? I don’t have to like Christmas, do I? If anyone could get me in the Christmas spirit, it would be Dane with his easy, relaxed manner and his gorgeous smile. If that were going to happen, though, I’d have to find the courage to talk to him and to admit that maybe I don’t know myself all that well after all.
Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay
Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it. Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.
Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Humor, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy (Please note: Not all tags refer to the collection of stories.)
Excerpt From Snow on Spirit Bridge by Freddy MacKay
There should be snow. Lots of it. Moreover, it should be below freezing with clouds, not this sunny and fifties crap. People should be huddled together and hurrying to get inside. It didn’t feel like Christmas otherwise.
With a sigh, Finni glanced around the train platform.
If he’d been home in Chicago, snow would blanket the streets and salt would crunch under his feet. Shop windows with mannequins would line the Magnificent Mile with Christmas winter scenes. The tree would be up at his parents’, decorated with bright lights and homemade ornaments he and his siblings made over the years. One or two presents would lie under the tree as a teaser for the younger cousins. Warm drinks would be waiting for him as he stepped through the door and brushed the snow off his coat. His family would smile at him and voices would call out to him.
If he’d been home in Chicago.
Tokyo wasn’t home.
A big, bustling city, yes, but not home.
As people hurried from one shop to the next, got on and off the trains, and ran about in their jackets and sweaters, Tokyo couldn’t have been farther from home. Yes, decorations were up at cake shops and at the department stores, but they weren’t the same. The plastic Christmas trees seemed more likely to come alive and hunt people down than give off a relaxing pine scent. They didn’t give off the same cozy family feeling Finni connected with. Everything was geared toward couples.
Since when was Christmas about couples?
A pang of loneliness ate at Finni’s gut. All he wanted was his parents, his brothers and sisters, and his cousins, aunts, uncles, and some snow. He needed to see everyone was happy and okay. Was that too much to ask for?
A chilled wind blasted Finni, and he looked up, expecting the train, but nothing rattled down the tracks. Other people grabbed their coats and hunched. Some young girls squealed and huddled closer to each other. Finally, a shiver wracked Finni, clueing him in to the unusual temperature drop.
Temperatures had plummeted from the fifties to almost thirty since he’d arrived on the platform, not normal weather. In only a T-shirt, even Finni felt the cold.
Finni sighed, closed his eyes, and concentrated on sunshine and warm thoughts. He almost laughed under the circumstances. The people would think he was odd and leave an even bigger circle around him. One more oddity to make Finni miss home even more.
The swoosh and rattle of a train making its way down the tracks caused Finni to open his eyes, watching expectantly with the others.
About damn time. Usually the trains didn’t run late unless something untoward happened. Like a jumper, which occurred more often than Finni comprehended. He risked a glance around and saw the people more relaxed, the extreme temperature flux now gone, just an oddity to discuss among themselves.
The train hissed to a stop, the doors popped open, and everyone hurried on, ready to leave the unusual drop in temperature behind them. While the men and women bumped into each other, the girls giggling as they passed Finni, he still got a wide berth as he ducked through. The crowd moved and swayed in a loose circle around him until Finni got to his spot by the doors and faced the window.
Once again, the seat next to him remained empty, no one sitting down even though the train was packed. Not every foreigner got quite the same treatment he did, but his size—not to mention the blond hair and blue eyes—made people’s reaction to him more extreme. Finni ignored the slight, though it stung more than it had the past couple of months. He’d learned not to notice when people stared or jumped in surprised when they looked up at him or moved away as soon as they noticed him after they sat down. Better to stay quiet and pretend nothing happened than draw attention to the behavior. It only made things worse.
Except today, the unfounded fears of the people he’d rode the train with since his move mid-October dug into him like claws. He sighed, leaned against the windows, and closed his eyes, exhausted.
Sleep wasn’t easy lately. Nightmares waited for him, ones that made it harder to be away from his family. He yawned, fighting off the weariness, but the rocking of the train called to him like a siren to a sailor.
No matter the direction he looked in, Finni only saw white. The snow beat down on him as he cried out. Torrents of wind spiraled all around him, the weather mimicking his heart.
Why hadn’t anyone come? The sky was dark. Someone should have found them by now. He trembled in the cold and felt so tired. He just wanted to sleep.
But he couldn’t. Not yet.
Finni tried to call out, but his voice had given out long before the sun went down.
He clutched Gunder to him. Realization had finally sunk in, but as he sniffed, Finni knew he’d never let Gunder go. No matter what.
He should’ve kept up with him. Kept Gunder in his sights, but his brother ran so much faster than he did. His legs were so long and big compared to Finni’s scrawny ones. Someday, he’d be bigger than Gunder, though, he just knew it. Then he’d be able to outrun his brother.
When they were grown up, three years wouldn’t be that big of a difference in age.
“Hear that, Gunder?” Finni asked in a whisper, pressing his face against his brother’s. “I’m going to be bigger than you someday. Be able to run faster. So…so…so…”
He broke down, sobs torn from his chest. How did they get home? Finni just wanted Mom and Dad. He just wanted to go home with Gunder.
“Mom!” His voice barely made it out, but he had to try. “Dad! Somebody!”
Nothing. He was alone. All alone.
Mom. Dad. I don’t want to be alone.
He screamed and the wind picked up, whipped around him in a cyclone. The temperature dropped farther.
Who was that?
“Finni! Where are you boys?”
“Gr-gr-grandpa?” Guilt warred with hope. He should hide. Everyone was gonna be mad. So, so mad. They’d never like him again.
The wind’s moaning stopped. The snowflakes stirred no more. Grandpa’s huge, hulking figure appeared.
“Grandpa,” Finni cried out. The hiccups came as he tried to get it all out. “G-G-Gunder fell through the ice… I-I-couldn’t reach him. Gunder…he… I-I-tried to g-g-get us home.”
“Oh, oh. Oh, Finni,” his grandpa said quietly. Tears ran down his cheeks.
Oh no. Grandpa was mad.
“My little boy.” Grandpa wrapped his big arms around them and kissed his forehead. “My poor boys.”
Finni wailed, and the snow picked back up.
Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay – Angel Martinez Reading The Excerpt – so wonderful!
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My favorite Christmas memory is the first Christmas with both my kids. My son would open one present and then spend time play with it. Took forever to get them all opened, but it was fun!
Thanks for the post and contest. I need to get this book!
I remember when I was a kid, we used to went to my grandparents’ house and celebrate Christmas with the whole family (I have a very large one 😉 ) and I always had fun playing with my cousins.
Thanks for the giveaway!
A favorite holiday memory…my large family gathering from all corners of the world staying up late talking and laughing until all hours. Nothing beats seeing everyone face to face, skyping and email just isnt the same.
I loved sitting with my nieces and telling them about Steve Martin in THE JERK while wearing my new Scott Hannan Sharks jersey (which was just what I wanted for Christmas). I saw my smiling brother peeking into the doorway and wiping away a sentimental tear or two…
One of my favorite things about the holidays is the Christmas baking. We’d set aside one Saturday, dubbed “cookie day” and make all sorts of cookies and candies to last us through New Year’s. It’s huge and messy and fun. 🙂