Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I can't believe another year has come and gone. I seem to measure my life not in days, weeks, or months, but in Summers and Christmases. And the older I get, the closer Summer and Christmas seem to get to one another.

Along about September, I start getting ready for Christmas. Though, truth be told, I sometimes start my Christmas shopping in July. I like to get a head start on gift buying because I like buying presents for the people I love and can't afford to buy nice ones if I have to do all my Christmas shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know. I know. I could save money. But that's never been my strong suit. And I use my Christmas club money not for gift buying but to pay the lot rent on my beach camper.

My husband and I actually started the holiday season off at the beach. The first weekend in December, we went to our camper so we could see the Christmas Flotilla in Beaufort. 

We had clams and beer at The Dock House Restaurant before the parade started.

After eating supper, we stood along the water front and watched the parade float by.

The boat parade runs along the water front from Morehead City, NC to Beaufort, NC. And it is truly a sight to behold.

This year there were even snow flurries on the waterfront. And it snowed on the beach last year and this year. I didn't see it either time. And although I much prefer warm weather to cold, it is my life long dream is to see it snow (and accumulate) on the beach.

As of this year, I've only seen snow on the beach

in Virginia. While visiting relatives in Fredericksburg last February, we took a side trip to a beach along the Potomac River. It was freezing! But beautiful.

As 2010 comes to a close, I can't really complain. My first book OUT OF THE DARKNESS was published.OUT OF THE DARKNESS is a paranormal vampire romance that's gotten some fantastic reviews. Another good thing about 2010.

And on October 18, 2010, I signed a contract for my first published historical romance. SLIGHTLY TARNISHED is an British-set historical and is set for release from The Wild Rose Press' English Tea line sometime next year.

I also received my first royalty check, making me a professional writer this year. There were book signings and blog appearances and I've genuinely had a good time with my new career.

If only I could finish the sequel to OUT OF THE DARKNESS before midnight tonight. Then, my year would be perfect. But that's about as likely to happen as me winning the lottery. And so, for my New Year's resolution, I resolve to complete the sequels to OUT OF THE DARKNESS and SLIGHTLY TARNISHED in 2011.

And hopefully, I'll one day get to see it snow on the beach.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas and the Paranormal--a re-post from my Black Rose Blog

Every Christian—even a few agnostics I know—understand the real meaning of Christmas. It’s written in John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

But according to most biblical scholars, Christ wasn't born in December. He was most likely born in September, about six months after Passover. But early Christians wanted to convert the Pagans and they were already celebrating in December.

The ancient Babylonians were partying it up in celebration of the feast of the Son of Isis. And way back in 46 BC, Julius Caesar marked his Julian calendar on December 25 as the date of the winter solstice. On that day, Romans celebrated rebirth, gathering and feasting in celebration of the shortest day of the year.

In other parts of  Europe, the pagans celebrated the birth of the Sun God, Mithras on the shortest day of the year and called it Yule. They’d toss a (Yule) log onto the fire and bring live evergreens into the house, decorating them as a reminder of the coming spring. 

The Druids also used evergreens as a religious symbol. They gathered around ceremonial trees and celebrated. There might even have been a sacrifice or two. 

But after Christ was born, the pagans didn’t want to give up their parties. So, Christmas became an annual celebration on December 25th with trees and Yule logs and that jolly fellow known as Santa Claus.

Santa, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Kris Kringle originated in Holland. He’s a mythical character who delivers gifts to good children on December 24 or on his Feast Day, also known as Saint Nicholas Day on December 6.

Santa’s original wardrobe was a bishop's robes, but he somehow morphed into a jolly fat man wearing a red suite.

In America, Santa Claus lives in the North Pole, has eight tiny reindeer who can fly and a shiny nosed leader of the pack known as Rudolf.  He also has a crew of elves making toys and spying on children to make sure they make his “good” list. But what happens to the children who wind up on the Naughty list?

In Austria and Bavaria, Santa has a helper, an evil counterpart who switches naughty children. Krampus is also a prominent Christmas figure in Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and northern Italy.
Good little children get presents from Santa. Naughty children get a switching from his demon-like helper, Krampus. The American tradition of leaving naughty children switches and ashes comes from Krampus. But in America, no demon like figure follows Santa Claus around to dole out the punishment.

Krampus festivals are traditionally held during the first two weeks of December. Young men dress up in goat furs, horns and masks and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.  They also use a birch branch to switch young girls. 

 Krampus sometimes carries a basket on his back to carry away bad children. Quite the contrast to Santa and his sack of toys!

In Austria, there’s a Krampus festival and it usually starts with a parade. Young men dress up as Krampus and race through town waving torches, rattling chains, ringing cow bells, and swatting young women and children with birch branches.

The Krampuses arrive in the center of town—usually pretty intoxicated—and gather around a roaring bonfire. Afterward, there’s more drinking and plenty of revelry. I’ve never witnessed one of these festivals myself, but my daughter has and it was definitely an experience she’ll never forget.

So, this year when you’re celebrating Christmas with something more traditional like attending Church or Mass or awaiting Santa’s arrival, remember that even holidays have a paranormal side.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Fiction and Gossip Magazine

Check out the new fiction and gossip magazine for writers and readers.

My article is on page 11.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reveiws and free stuff!

Got a wonderful review tonight from TwoLipsReviews:

"Out of the Darkness is the most original and thought provoking vampire novel I've run across in a long, long time. I adamantly recommend it."

You can read the entire review at

I also have a recipe (handed down from my grandmother) in the Garden Gourmet, a free PDF cookbook available from The Wild Rose Press. You can download it for free from the link below.

Friday, December 17, 2010

We have a Winner!

Congratulations to Misty Evans for winning The Man of My Dreams candle from Celebrating Homes. If she prefers, I'll send her a $12 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press.

 Few who commented actually told me about the man of her dreams, but Misty did tell us about one of her favorite Christmas movies. And that was in the rules too. So, congratulations, Misty!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Today is the last week of The Wilder Roses Blog tour. Leave me a comment today about the man of your dreams or your favorite holiday traditions for a chance to win The Man of My Dreams candle from Celebrating Homes.
So, what's your favorite tradition?
Christmas dinner. Grandma's special cookies. Reading The Christmas Story. Decorating on a certain day. Everyone has a Christmas tradition, even if those traditions change over the years the way my family's have. (You can check out my Christmas traditions at . It's part of the Wilder Roses Christmas Blog Tour.)
Today Maya Blake, author of Hostage to Love is sharing her Christmas traditions.
So, Maya, tell us something about yourself and your favorite holiday traditions.
Hi, I’m Maya Blake, I’m a thirty-something romance writer whose life-long dream of writing finally came true last year when my debut novel was published by The Wild Rose Press. I’m the fourth of five siblings and I live in Kent, England with my husband and two (sometimes, lol) adorable kids.

I don’t have a Christmas tradition at my house, per se, but definitely the one thing I look forward to once lunch is out of the way is opening presents, and who doesn’t? But before we get down to this momentous task, we have a little pre-present opening “thing” we always do. First, we get out the mince pies (which goes in the oven after the turkey comes out) and the mulled wine. For my buddies across the Atlantic who’ve never heard of mince pies, here’s a link of the ingredients that goes into a yummy mince pie (and no, it has no meat in it ). The teetotallers in my house go for tea, but I always make sure I’m nice and toasty with a glass of warm mulled wine on standby.
My husband tends to do the honours in dishing out the pies, usually served with lashings of rich cream. There’s nothing like digging into a warm mince pie with a roaring fire going and everyone full and happy from a lovely lunch.
It is only after the pies and wine are eaten and drank that we open our Christmas presents. The children get their presents first, naturally. Then it’s Grandma’s turn. I tend to open mine last, because more often than not, I know what I’m going to receive - my family aren’t very good at keeping secrets *sigh*.
Finally, the older ones succumb to a well-earned nap in front of the TV clutching whatever present they’ve received that year and wake in time (if they can) for the Queen’s Speech!
What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
Maya Blake is Crimson Rose author of Hostage to Love, available from The Wild Rose press 
and Amazon:

Crushed by betrayal, Belle Winkworth-Jones flees the shambles of her short-lived marriage, only to be kidnapped by a vicious rebel soldier determined to keep her for himself. Nick Andreakos mounts a ruthless rescue to save the wife who walked away from him, even though he's resentful Belle could dismiss their marriage so easily.
On Althea, their private Greek island where Belle recuperates, passion ignites, taking hold with relentless force. But in the shadows, danger lurks. The rebel soldier is determined to recapture Belle.
Can Belle and Nick set aside their differences in time to fight this threat and save their love, or will it be too late…?

Belle jerked awake as a loud blast ripped through the cave, her eyes unprepared for the blinding, strobe flashes of light that lit up the dark cavern a second later. Squinting, she saw the flashes continue intermittently for several seconds, then stop. She lurched from her position propped up against the wall and wondered for a moment if she was still dreaming.
The screams from a few feet away told her she wasn’t.
She’d stayed awake long after the rebel leader retired behind his curtain, unable to sleep for fear he might vent his anger on Father Tom. 
She’d also contemplated what she would do after nature ran its course. She’d bought them three days, four at the most. What would happen after that? Could she willingly to let the loathsome man touch her for the sake of keeping one or all of them alive? And what guarantee did she have that he wouldn’t harm Father Tom?
The idea that perhaps they could overpower two of the soldiers, steal their weapons and make a run for it, she immediately discarded as foolish, and dangerous. She’d slumped, dejected, against the wall of the cave. That’s when she must’ve fallen asleep.
Dizzy and momentarily blinded by the flashes, she jumped as Edda screamed again. What was happening? Had the rebel leader decided they weren’t worth keeping and blasted the cave, burying them alive? Curiously though, the walls of the cave remained intact. She blinked a few times to dispel the blindness. Nothing happened.
A staccato burst of muffled gunfire sounded close by. But the gunfire was inside the cave, not outside. Which meant the rebels were still inside. Something brushed against her and she bit back a scream.
‘It’s all right lass, it’s me,’ Father Tom whispered close to her. ‘I told yer we’d be rescued today.’
Rescued! Why hadn’t she thought of that? Her spirits soared. Then plummeted.
Who would rescue them? Only Liz knew where she was, and she knew her friend wouldn’t give up her whereabouts lightly. Besides, she wasn’t due to make her weekly phone call to her best friend until Monday, so she wouldn’t guess Belle might be in trouble until after she failed to make the call. As for Father Tom, having lived and run the mission in Nawaka for the last seventeen years, he wouldn’t be missed back in his native Scotland. The same went for Edda and Hendrik, who’d been travelling around Africa for the past two years. As for the Nawakan government, it had enough on its plate with its fight to prevent the gold and diamond mines from being looted to mount rescue operations of kidnapped foreigners.
So rescue was not an option.
The only other conclusion she could reach was that another rebel faction had caught wind of Captain Mwana’s bounty and intended to claim them. It wasn’t unheard of for one rebel group to seize another’s hostages if they could profit from it. Sometimes rebels within the same group rose up against each other. Was that what was happening here? Had Mwana’s subordinates staged a coup against him?
If so, they had to take advantage of the gunfight.
‘Father, I don’t think we’re being rescued, but I still think we should make a run for it. This may be our only chance.’ God, she prayed she was right.
He gave a nervous chuckle. ‘I’m with you, lass, but unfortunately, these old eyes cannot see a thing at the moment. I think I’m blind.’
She stopped herself from telling him she suffered the same ailment, although she could just about make out shadowy images in her periphery. ‘It’s all right Father. Just hold onto my hand and I’ll guide you. Keep your head down. Hendrik, Edda, are you okay?’
‘Yes,’ Hendrik responded.
She took a deep breath and edged forward, her hand clamped around Father Tom’s. They’d travelled only a few feet when a bullet slapped the cave wall beside her. Small rocks struck her cheek and she cried out. Fear strangling her, she crouched down, eyes shut, beside Father Tom.
‘We have to keep moving,’ Hendrik urged from behind her.
She opened her eyes and thankfully, most of her vision had been restored. But what little she saw stilled her heart. Since whoever was attacking the rebels was doing so from outside the cave whilst the guerrillas defended themselves from inside, there’d be no way to escape without being caught in the crossfire.
Another bullet whizzed past her and struck a lantern on the far side of the cave, igniting it. A huge plume of acrid smoke bellowed up towards the craggy ceiling of the cave.
Their situation had just worsened a hundred-fold.
She knew they only had a matter of minutes to live. Because if the bullets didn’t get them, the smoke and fire would. There was enough bedding, ammunition and lamps to set the place ablaze in seconds.
Just then the gunfire ceased.
‘Come on,’ she whispered desperately to Father Tom. She grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the entrance of the cave, trying not to let the sight of the bloodied bodies disturb her. She focused on the discarded guns instead. If they could arm themselves, they’d increase their chances considerably.
But as she reached for the nearest rifle, she heard the crunch of feet approaching.
Another burst of gunfire. Then silence.
Through the smoky light she saw a figure, tall and male, enter the cave, followed by two more. In silence, the men advanced towards them. Belle’s throat closed up, fear completely seizing her. She turned to Father Tom. Her hand gripped his and she tried to shield him with her body.
Someone crouched behind her. She squeezed her eyes shut.
This is it. This is it.
‘Hello, Tinkerbelle,’ a deep voice purred in her ear.