Monday, December 4, 2017

#OnceUponAChristmasMoon #Romance #Fantasy #Adventure

A collection of stories about the magic of romance at Christmas time.



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EXCERPTS: Once Upon a Christmas Moon


Twelve Days to Love
Christine Young

Near New Orleans October 2,1867

“Sam! Close the shutters on the back landing. I’ll get the front. Hurry. There’s a storm coming.” Calanthe Durand felt the small hairs on the back of her neck rise and shivers run down her spine. A big storm was on its way, probably a hurricane. Energy and fear poured through her like the pounding rain and flooding that accompanied high winds. Closing the house to the storm was imperative.
Cali took a moment to smile. She’d heard Sam grunt. He didn’t talk much, but she wouldn’t have survived the war or these last two years without Sam and his daughter Daisy. Both sides, the North and the South, had occupied their home. Daisy and Sam were family, the only family she had. She’d do whatever was necessary to protect them. Even with emancipation, life wasn’t easy for blacks in the south.
“I’ve got them, Miss Cali.” Daisy rushed past her and out the door. Wind whipped her hair and tugged at her dress. Branches torn from trees landed on the porch.
Cali followed, the storm swirling around her, her hair beating against her face. Her breath was ragged, and fast as her heart thundered. She pushed and tugged at her skirt, trying to detangle the fabric from her legs. “Get inside!” The tempest raging around them swallowed her voice.
“Not until we’re finished here.” Daisy fastened a shutter before moving on to the next one.
They worked together to protect the windows from the storm on the raised porch which stood five feet off the ground as wind howled around the eaves. A steady rain poured from the black sky, and lightning slashed the darkness.
Cali pushed dripping strands of hair that had slipped from her chignon away from her face. “I’ll light the candles. It could get dark here pretty fast.”
“Horses and livestock are safe for now.” Sam stepped beside her. “Hope it’s not a big one.”
“Hello up there. Hello, bonjour, anyone home?”
Hearing the voice from below, Cali left the protection of the house to lean over the porch railing. Below her a man stood, with cupped hands to his mouth and a dead gator slung over one shoulder a quiver filled with arrows on the other. “Hello. Can I get shelter from the hurricane?”
“Don’t know if it’s a hurricane.” Terrified of unknown men, Cali didn’t want to do the charitable thing. She pursed her lips, thinking, but all that came to surface was memories of troops commandeering her home. Good lord but she’d had to hollow out a bedpost to hide her jewelry. The soldiers had taken everything they could see. Sometimes she felt as if the war had ripped her soul from her body.
“Maybe not a hurricane. Could be just a bad storm, but I don’t want to be on the swamp right now. The water’s rising.” A loud roar and a thunderclap followed his pause. Behind him an old Cyprus tree crashed to the ground, uprooted by the wind.
“You can take shelter in the stable.” Cali watched his back stiffen, while she swallowed hard, but she wasn’t about to back down. The stable was good enough for some wandering man who she owed nothing. Besides, there was a tack room with a bed. No one slept there anymore, but she kept it clean and the moss in the mattress was fresh. Daisy had rolled it out two days ago. Yet a small niggling in the back of her head kept telling her this wasn’t a traveling man but one of means. He was a man she should treat as a gentleman. She’d been taught better but the war had changed all that and the lessons she learned were not served to her with a silver spoon.
“Much obliged.” He nodded before turning toward the barn. His natural swagger and broad shoulders sent a different kind of sensation through her. Warmth swept inside, swirling within and heating her frozen heart. For a moment he looked back, a strange expression on his well-chiseled face.


Boots and Blades
C.L. Kraemer

High Desert, Central Oregon

Killian stared at the rise of rock from the desert floor. The emerging sun tricked the sky into revealing pink and blue streamers across the horizon exposing the severe lines of craggy mountains. Pine trees scented the air, and the slightest hint of sage tickled his nose.
“Where are they disappearing to? They’re much too young to be running away.”
“Master Killian?”
The young man turned his blue gray eyes from the mountain to answer. “Yes, Ms. Luna. What can I do for you?”
“Are you sitting out here at this early hour worrying about the young ones?” Luna’s black hair was braided down her back and she sported a shawl bright with her clan’s colors. She handed the young man a steaming cup of coffee. “I hope you don’t mind black. I’ve yet to milk the goat.”
Killian flashed her a seldom seen smile. “Ms. Luna, you make the best coffee in the desert. Black is fine.”
Taking up a spot next to him on the porch, she turned her attention to the mountains admiring the soft colors of rose and tan springing to life in the morning sun. “What is it that haunts you so?”
“The illogicality of it all.”
“Aye, I figured that. It is indeed illogical. The children are too responsible to leave unannounced, yet they are snatched from their beds in the middle of the night with no clues.”
Killian sipped the wicked black brew and allowed the liquid to spike his taste buds. The brilliant light of a new day was caressing the landscape and warming the air. “The kinders disappearing are not inclined to run off. They are the eldest and most reliable. These missings make no sense. They don’t happen in the same area or at the same time. They’re completely arbitrary and being so—random—has given me pause to find a method. If I were to discover a pattern, the recovery would be simpler.”
Luna watched the anguish distort his handsome young face. His blue eyes clouded to a dark grey when he spoke of the missing children, and his normally full mouth stretched to a tight slash across his face.
“I don’t wish to sound cruel, but none of these are young ones of your own family. Why take their absence to heart?”
Killian relaxed his scowl a bit, and a smile began to touch his lips. “Because it is they who will be the leaders of our clans in but a few short years. I had hoped to retire my sword someday to warm my boots by a fire. Having a mate and young ones around isn’t such a bad idea.”
He automatically sipped his dark brew. It would indeed be nice to warm my feet by a fire with a mate and children. The problem being I’ve found no person who makes me think in such terms.
“Well, I must admit, Master Killian, I never would have thought you to be the settling type.” She picked up his cup, returning from the kitchen minutes later with fresh coffee in the container.
“Neither had I, Ms. Luna, neither had I, however, aside from our missing young ones, there has been no conflict between the clans, nor have the Others tried to interfere in our affairs in a very long time. It is a good thing for many but for me, what good is a warrior without a war?”
Luna could only agree with his forlorn assessment; what good, indeed, was a warrior without a war? “Maybe a solution will arrive in the near future. You never know.”
Killian shrugged his shoulders. Who knew indeed?



Christmas Pawsibilities
Genie Gabriel

“So where is this alien craft?”
Fletcher had never completely trusted Commander Viktor Atrocitor. Since he had taken command of GIG two years ago, the atmosphere at the agency had become cold and suspicious, like the man himself. He seemed carved from six and a half feet of granite, blocky and scowling.
“It has disappeared.” Fletcher knew this statement would draw Atrocitor’s ire and disdain, but what was the use of denying the obvious?
“Fool! Can you do nothing right?” Atrocitor turned to the GIG agents waiting at a wary distance. “Search the neighborhood. Someone must have seen something or is hiding them.”
While Atrocitor berated Fletcher, other GIG agents spread throughout the neighborhood, offending pretty much everyone by demanding they stay in their houses while their property was overrun and searched.
After two hours of fruitless searching, Commander Atrocitor called a halt. “If you want to save your career and this town, you will bring me these aliens within twenty-four hours.”
As Fletcher watched the caravan of GIG vehicles disappear down the road out of Watermark, he felt like a six-year-old kid again. Bullied and humiliated for his belief that beings from distant galaxies simply wanted to explore and build alliances. They weren’t like aliens in movies who wanted to destroy humanity.
That’s why Fletcher started working at Geeks in Green. He thought he found other humans like himself who believed alliances with aliens could benefit everyone. Now he was starting to believe the rumors about Commander Atrocitor being heartless and determined to eliminate aliens were true. How could he know for sure?
His thoughts were interrupted when Agnes staggered out the back door toward the barn. “Who’s disturbing my goats?”
With her hair disheveled and her clothes askew, she did indeed look as if she had spent a raucous night of partying—the after-effects of being zapped by a ray gun.
Laycee and Fletcher followed Agnes into the barn, where the spacecraft was once again visible. Now the hatch was open, with guards standing on either side pointing ray guns at Agnes, Laycee and Fletcher.
“Holy extraterrestrial!”
With a sizzle of purple, one of the alien guards fired his gun and Fletcher crumpled to the ground.
“Why did you do that?” Ryan hustled out of the spacecraft.
“He is of GIG,” one of the guards stated. “He is a danger to our Queen.”
“Is he dead?” Ryan knelt over Fletcher’s inert body.
“Simply stunned. We will revive him when the danger to our Queen is gone.” The two guards loaded Fletcher onto a transport board, which levitated and moved inside the spacecraft.
“Your mouth isn’t moving but I can hear your words.” Laycee’s shocked whisper matched the stunned expression in her eyes.
“Our Canine Queen is birthing and is not to be disturbed.” This time the alien’s mouth moved as he spoke, and he looked like any other human except for a twinkle of star light in his eyes. “Weren’t you getting milk for the royal puppies?”
“Yes.” Ryan refocused his attention on this task, determined to ignore Laycee’s presence. What was she doing here anyway? “Agnes, do you have milk from your goats?”
“My goats don’t much like to be milked.”
“Surely it can’t be that difficult,” Ryan said.
Agnes lifted an eyebrow. “You’re welcome to try. I’ll get a clean bucket.”
Determined to get milk for the Queen’s puppies, Ryan began stalking one of the goats.
“I think it should be a female,” Laycee said.
Ryan felt like a first grader again. “I knew that.”
Laycee coughed behind her hand to cover her laughter. “There’s a girl goat on top of the space ship.”
Ryan looked up the curved, smooth surface. “Maybe there’s another girl somewhere easier to reach.”
He stepped around the space ship and over the boards broken when the craft crashed through the roof. “There’s a girl! Help me get her into a stall.”
“Um-kay.”
While Ryan circled around the nanny goat one way, Laycee closed in on her from the other side. The little goat narrowed her eyes at the humans and, when they were within a couple feet of her, she let out a bleat and ran between Ryan’s legs. Startled, he stumbled and dropped to one knee.
“Watch out!” Laycee’s shout made Ryan turn in time to see an irritated male goat charging toward him.





AUTHOR BIOS:

Christine Young

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. Each fall, Christine returns to the classroom as a high school math teacher. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children.  Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

C. L. Kraemer

C. L. Kraemer is a wanderer, a way of life started when her father served in the U.S. Marine Corp. She’s carried on the tradition seeing most of the continental United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. 
Three contemporary romance novels written under the nom de plume, Celia Cooper: Old Enough to Know Better; Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Mazatlan; and If Only were gifts from the writing gods. A fourth novel, Cats in the Cradle of Civilization, written as C. L. Kraemer is her first venture to the mystery genre. Wings ePress, Inc. is the publisher of these four offerings.
Healthy Homicide, the October 2008 launch book for a new publishing house, RoguePhoenixPress, picks up the torch again in the mystery world. In February 2010, she contributed writings to two Valentine’s Anthologies at RoguePhoenixPressA Valentine Anthologywith The Lending Library and A Different Kind of Valentine with The Prize.
She completed the base story in a Dragon fantasy series, Dragons Among Us, for RoguePhoenix Press. The second in the series, Dragons Among the Eagles, was released June 2011.
Meadows of Gold, another faerie story, was released March 2011 as part of A St Patrick’s Day Tale. A novel based on one of the first mass shootings, which took place in Salem, Oregon in 1981, Shattered Tomorrows, was released August 2011. Currently in the works for publication is a commuter book featuring a motorcycle poker run, Joker’s Wild, and the third in the dragon series, Dragons Among the Ice.

Genie Gabriel


I went through the expected motions of marriage, kids, divorce, and career, but usually out of step with most of the human population. This proved to be an advantage in developing an independence and a curiosity about things most people don’t even consider. 

A minor health issue led to energy healing and becoming a master level Reiki practitioner. Working at the local animal shelter flipped on the switch to communicating with animals. Each dog I adopted showed miraculous changes most people couldn’t believe. 

As a writer, I explored the mysteries of why people behave as they do, and also became fascinated by science, especially quantum physics. But perhaps my favorite way of writing stories is to ask the question, What if?” and dive into those imagined worlds—surrounded by my beloved furbabies, of course!



SOCIAL LINKS

Rogue’s Angels


Christine Young

            Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/achristay/
            Google +: https://plus.google.com




C. L. Kraemer



Genie Gabriel

Website URL: www.GenieGabriel.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Love Sick Love: D. A. Cairns






EXCERPT: Love Sick Love

She seems agitated, and although I know she is a nervy, jittery type of character, I sense heightened tension on this occasion and naturally so. I feel it too. She’s watching me furtively as I return to her with a schooner of beer in my hand. I offer it to her, and she smiles. Her actions are quick but indecisive. As I settle, I detect reticence.
“Is everything okay?” I ask. “Is this spot all right?”
Her nodding head juxtaposes her words. “Maybe over there is better.”
As she scurries to the other side of the room, I follow, exploding with anticipation. She sits in one chair, then moves before I can join her, and I’m just about to sit down when she moves again.
“Are we playing musical chairs?”
The meaning of the question, and its allusion to childhood games eludes her, and by the time I have settled she’s moved again and is now sitting on a stool directly in front of me. Our knees almost touch, and she leans forward, wide eyed as though she has something exciting to say. I wait, but she retracts, averts her eyes, then quickly glances back to me.
“Talk to me,” I say. “What’s on your mind?”
I study her face and note her blemishes and the lines which quietly assert her maturity. She’s in her late thirties, thirty-eight maybe, but she looks younger. Her expression changes rapidly through numerous emotional displays, but I can’t read anything except uncertainty. She wants to speak, but either won’t or can’t.
“I want to be with you. You like me too, so there is nothing to stop us,” I say.
“Except you are married.”
There is no conviction in her tone. No reproach. It is a statement of fact, which is perhaps not as meaningless to her as it is to me.
“Okay,” I say, cautiously. I’m convinced if I play this right, I can seduce her and make her my secret lover. There is an element of moral ambivalence. “Let me explain why I am chasing you when I’m married.”
She looks away, and sips her beer. I have nearly finished, while her glass is nearly full. My head and heart are also beyond capacity, verging on chaotic inundation. I’m going to justify my adulterous intentions, or at least attempt to.
“My wife and I have been married for twenty years, and we’re friends. We get on well most of the time, but our marriage is really more like a business arrangement. We both work and have little time together. Time we do have is taken up with shopping, and cleaning and visiting, or arguing about money or our children. She’s unwell. Mentally. She’s been diagnosed with depression, but I think she’s bi polar as well. We’re often at odds over little things. She tends to be very negative and critical. She’s miserable actually, and at lot of the time she makes me miserable.”
With the painful realization I’m slandering the woman I love—or perhaps once loved— and have committed to spending the rest of my life with, I pause and take a mouthful of beer. Lying too, with frightening ease. Cassy isn’t sick and we haven’t been married for twenty years; not even close. Chao-xing’s watching me intently, fascinated I suspect. I don’t want to speak ill of my wife. Actually, I don’t want to talk about her at all, but some of this is necessary so Chao-xing will understand where I’m coming from, and not think badly of me. Adultery is a bad thing to do, but I’m not a bad person. I blame circumstances. Years of neglect and sexual frustration. I blame my wife though I would never say that out loud. I don’t want to blame her but am less inclined to blame myself. The uncomfortable truth is I can’t help myself. I’m out of control, but rationalization is a better option than accepting the facts.
“I need some fun and excitement and I need sex.”
Chao-xing is typically unruffled by my directness, but she moves seats again, shifting to my right where she reclines as though tired. She’s staring at me, examining me, interrogating me with her eyes.



AUTHOR BIO

Heavy metal lover and cricket tragic, D.A. Cairns lives in Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, where he works as an English language teacher and writes stories in his very limited spare time. He has had over fifty short stories published (but who’s counting, right?) He blogs at Square pegs http://dacairns.blogspot.com.au and has authored four novels, Devolution, Loathe Your Neighbor, Ashmore Grief, and A Muddy Red River which is also available from Rogue Phoenix Press.


KEYWORDS

love sick love, lovesickness, sexual addiction, obsession, divorce

SOCIAL LIINKS

Website URL:           http://dacairns.weebly.com



Twitter handle: @da_cairns

ALSO BY D. A. CAIRNS






BLURB

Shane Archer is solid, dependable and reliable while his younger brother, Rob, is reckless, selfish and unpredictable. Never close during their formative years, and further divided by distance in adulthood, they live disconnected lives until the corkscrew of life pits them on a collision course. They love, they laugh, they lose and with broken hearts and messed up lives they find strength in the women they love and in their family. Could each be the agent of salvation for the other, or will they be torn apart forever? A Muddy Red River traces the course of the lives of broken people who discover power to overcome adversity.

REVIEW:

A Muddy Red River
D. A. Cairns
978-1-62420-162-2

Reviewed by Jocko Lee
4 Stars out of 5

The Muddy Red River follows a short time period of two Australian brothers as they blunder their way through life. One brother, at home in Australia, is having to deal with his love for his wife and his attraction to other women. The other brother, on vacation in Thailand, mostly loves himself but finds himself attracted to a bar girl.

They both deal with death and escape, one from the law and the other from his guilt. How they cope with their circumstances brings them back closer together.
 
All through the book I found myself in a hurry to get to the next chapter. At first I was more involved in the conflict between Rob and Jam than the other brother. Cairn’s practice of alternating chapters between brothers left me, at times, feeling like I was watching a captivating movie and it went to a commercial break. I rushed through the chapters dealing with Shane and Angela just to get back to see what Rob and Jam were up to.

Later in the book Shane’s situation became as compelling as Rob’s and I was hurrying to read the exploits of both. This book has made me want to read more of this writers work.