Sunday, December 23, 2012


Happy holidays, everyone! Thank you for taking time out of your Christmas hustle and bustle to join us for a bit of sharing- and gift giving, as we present our part of Paranormal Read's Holiday Hop. *shouts across the blogosphere* Thank you for hosting this wonderful event, ladies- (Sabrina and Pam). We <3 you!
So, anyway, We've asked a few of our favorite authors to share some of their Christmas traditions and precious memories. Being the gracious people they all are, they've not only shared intimate moments and fun remembrances, they've also donated a few of their amazing books for you to win. HO! HO! HO!
Grab your hot cider, cocoa or what have you, and kick back for a few and enjoy their lovely tales. Perhaps you share some of their traditions- we'd love to hear if you do. We'd just love to hear from you. ;)

We open 1 present on christmas eve, then we make hot chocolate and drive around looking at christmas lights.  In 2013, Book 2 of the Elfin series will come out and Books 6, 7, and 8 of the Grey Wolves Series.

My husband and I started our own Christmas tradition years ago.  We open one small present each day for the twelve days of Christmas.  It's usually things from our stocking.  it might be a DVD or a box of candy (our stockings are huge!), but we open a little something each night.  As for the bigger celebrations, we split our time between his family and mine.  My family has a big Christmas Eve meal and then we open presents.  After we've goofed off and taken a zillion pictures, we play some sort of game.  One year, it was charades. I'm pretty sure anyone who peeked in our windows probably thought we'd completely lost it.  LOL  Christmas Day has always been about my husband's family.  Before his mother died, we would go to her house for breakfast, and oh what a breakfast it was!  She was a wonderful cook.  But now, we just skip to dinner at his grandmother's house, followed by dessert and late-night snacks at his Dad's house.  I think it's pretty standard.  If I had to guess, though, I'd say there's probably more laughter and fun in our family than in most.  Everyone in my family loves to laugh and cut up and that extends to holidays, too.  Maybe even more than most other days, which is a lot.  It's truly a joyous time.  And the food is great, too, which doesn't hurt.  LOL

As for what bookish things 2013 holds, I hope it's GREAT things!  LOL  I will be releasing Up to Me, the book to follow Down to You in the Bad Boys Series, on January 6th.  Berkley will be re-releasing The Wild Ones in print in March, with only tentative release dates for books 2 and 3 in that series. I won't even try to guess at those yet.  After I finish writing Up to Me, I'll be starting book 3 (possibly titled The Wild Kind) in The Wild Ones Series. It is due to my editor by March 15th.  After I turn that in, I'll begin the third book in the Bad Boys Series.  I don't have any concrete plans for after that.  I'll see where I'm at, but I'd like to finish up a couple of my older series and work on a fourth BLP book in 2013.  We'll see how it goes.

A huge Miller tradition is every year on Thanksgiving my husband and youngest son decorate the outside of our house for the holidays. And not a little decorating, but we're talking Griswold style christmas lights and blow ups. There's so much stuff, that they clog up our street with Christmas light gawkers. Book wise for 2013...Taboo Kisses is a full-length erotica m/m/f novel and it'll release in early 2013. I'm also midway through a second m/m/f erotica novel, Demon Spelled, and hopefully it'll be completed and ready to release by summer 2013. After that, I'll resume the next two books in the Road to Hell series.
A view of the lights...

What type of Christmas traditions do you and your family partake in?

First, I have to say that I LOVE Christmas. It is by far my favorite time of year. I grew up with some strong traditions surrounding it (my mother is Eastern European so we’ve always celebrated on Christmas Eve—open presents, big dinner, all that jazz) and so it has been a real joy for me to create my own traditions with my husband and two little girls. Each year something new pops up. Here’s a few of them:

• “Buddy” the Elf was introduced this year. He arrived on November 25th, exactly one month before Christmas. We celebrated with a fake Thanksgiving feast (I say fake because we’re Canadian). That funny-looking little thing is a godsend some days. If I had a nickel for every time I said, “Buddy’s watching!”... Well, you get it.
• Shopping Day— my husband and I started this day last year. We take one day off of work. We leave early in the morning, have breakfast at the local diner, and then hammer through all of our shopping in one day. Best. Idea. Ever.
• Movies—no Christmas is official without the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation and Bad Santa. I think Elf is quickly working his way in as well.
• Christmas Day—we must, I repeat MUST, have cinnamon buns while opening presents, followed by eggs benedict for brunch. We MUST all stay in flannel pajamas for as long as humanly possible (until company comes). Apparently there is a new rule that no turkey under 25lbs may be cooked in our kitchen. There was a short-lived tradition of pulling out our silver tea set for “fancy tea” on Christmas Day, however that has since been abandoned, given the amount of work in cleaning it beforehand. Last but not least is the inevitable tradition—parents and in-laws hover in the kitchen to watch/supervise/annoy us while we prepare dinner. I haven’t figured out how to quash that one yet…

What does 2013 hold for you in the book world?   I’m working on Livie’s story as a follow up to Ten Tiny Breaths. I hope to release it late March/early April. I also have plans to write and publish the fourth and final book in the Causal Enchantment series, to be released late summer/fall.  Beyond that? I have ideas. Lots of ideas… J

My favorite memories of Christmas go back to when I was a kid. Our family — aunts, uncles, and cousins — would gather at my grandparents' house in Mexico to feast on whatever livestock my grandfather decided would make a good meal for his 7 children, 7 daughters/sons-in-law, nearly 20 grandchildren and his neighbors (mostly extended family).

My grandmother would set up the Christmas tree in the living room and as everyone arrived they'd set their presents around it. By 10 pm, when the entire family was accounted for, half the living room would be filled with gifts, Santa's gifts excluded. My cousins and I would peek into the room and try to guess which gift belonged to who. It was impossible to walk through the pile of gift wrapping and bows, but we tried to tip toe our way around the mountain. We'd be shooed away by our mothers and run outside, chasing after each around the large piece of land that belonged to our grandparents.

Dinner wasn't a sit down event. My grandmother's table only seated 6 people so the men would build a fire outside and fill up on spirits while the women cooked the fresh meat that their husbands had cleaned and prepped earlier in the day. Usually, there'd be two or three main dishes including the dish that the men would cook outside using their fire. Sides and desserts were brought by each family and so the feast was bountiful. We took turns eating, but as kids we never ate much. I mean, it was Christmas Eve! Who could eat with such excitement?

At midnight we'd all be called into the house to distribute our Christmas hugs all around. Then the gift exchange would begin. Our little hearts fluttered waiting for our names to be called. We could hardly contain ourselves as pieces and shreds of wrapping paper flew everywhere. Aside from the mess of wrapping paper, joy filled that room every Christmas Eve until we began to grow up, get married and moved away. But the memories of those Christmases at The Ranch warm my heart and will live in me forever.

If there's one thing I learned from those family gatherings, it's that spending time with family is the greatest gift of all. And on a side note, my grandfather, may he rest in peace, really knew how to throw a party.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

~Nely Cab

A Christmas tradition?  I’ve got one that’s bittersweet.  Mostly sweet, because of how things turned out.
My mom and I are very close.  For years, we have gotten together in December to bake astronomical amounts of cookies.  I’m talking 25 different varieties some years, each recipe at least quadrupled so we will ‘have enough’ to give to friends.  We generally have enough to give to the entire state.
My mom’s least favorite to make was always my favorite to eat as a kid.  They are candy cane cookies, and they take forever to make, because you have to twist red (well, pink) and white (well, yellow) dough together into the candy cane shape.  They fall apart more than they come together and it’s the only time I’ve known my mom to cuss so openly.  It takes an hour to twist together a batch.  Oh, but my mom always flavored them with almond (because peppermint cookies can be really yucky) and I loved their taste and how they looked, so she always (reluctantly) agreed to make them.
And we baked our cookies every year, except the year that my mom was told she had cancer in October and probably wouldn’t make it to Christmas.  My mom did chemo and she was too sick to do much of anything else.  She had good and bad days, the good days not so great and the bad days were horrible.
One of the things that kept both she and I going through it all, was my daughter.  Only 2 1/2 years old, her Nana was her favorite person in the world too.  After chemo treatments at the hospital down the street, my dad would drive my mom over to talk to my daughter through the front window screen (since my mom had to be careful of germs during some parts of the treatment).  My mom and I would both get teary as my daughter told my mom of all the things she planned for them to do together.  My little girl was steadily building a world with my mom in it, even though the Earth seemed to be shaking under everyone else’s feet.
Two weeks before Christmas, my mom was having one of her better days, which wasn’t saying much.  A new mall had been built and they had promoted a spectacular Santa display.  My mom wanted to go and see her granddaughter sit on this most-amazing Santa’s lap, for maybe the first and last time in her life.
We got to the mall and got a decent parking spot out front.  My mom insisted on slinging her ratty old backpack on (I hated the thing) which she used instead of a purse now.  She was having a hard time breathing, so walking exhausted her quickly.  Once inside the mall, we realized that Santa was at the opposite end and I told my mom we should just go home.  It was just too far.
But my mom refused.  So, we made our way through the mall, from bench to bench, resting in between.  A three minute walk for anyone else took us 20 minutes, but my daughter twirled and danced for my mom during rest stops and chattered to her about Christmas and what they would do on her next birthday and a million other things, while I tried not to cry and my mom tried to breathe.
When we finally got to the actual display (the whole mall was gorgeous), I was elated to see there was hardly a line.  There were two families ahead of us, so we waited our turn with my mom breathing heavily beside me, because there was no place for her to sit down, only lean.  My daughter held fast to my mother’s hand and she even asked once, “Are you going to be okay, Nana?”
My mother assured her that she’d be fine, but only with a nod.  It’s all she could manage.  I was worried that she wouldn’t be fine, by the time we got to the front of the line.  I stepped up quickly to the woman seated at the table, before the stairs leading up to Santa.  I assumed we’d have to pay.  My daughter hopped with excitement at the end of my mom’s fingertips and my mother smiled.
“Name?” the woman asked and I gave her my daughter’s name.  The woman looked at a paper in front of her and then her gaze flicked back to me.  “You’re not on the list.”
“List?” I asked.  The woman explained that we had to make ‘an appointment’ to see Santa.  My mother was running out of air.  Her wig was itching her, because she was sweating from the long walk in.  She tapped me on the shoulder and told me she was going to go sit down.  She left the line and my daughter trailed after her.
I apologized to the woman at the table and said I was unaware of having to make a reservation, but could she please make an exception.  She said the notice about making reservations was in the paper, but I didn’t get the paper and we were too far from the mall to have gotten it in our paper anyway.
I finally told the woman about my mom, about the terminal cancer, about the long walk in.  I asked, with a little bit of begging, if she could please, please make an exception.  The woman sighed and said, “No, I’m sorry.  Everyone’s made reservations and if we did that, it would change everyone else’s time.”
And that was that.  She wouldn’t budge.
It is the only time in my entire life that I was devastated and wanted to kill someone because my kid couldn’t see Santa.  I went back and told my mom and she, always positive, said, “Well, we’ll just have to do it another day.”
I nodded, but neither of us really knew if there would be another day.  According to the doctors, there wouldn’t.
I tried to look away and blink out the tears as my mom and my daughter and I made the long trip back through the mall, bench by bench, and out to the car.  But once we were all inside my car, I turned the key, and the car only clicked.  By that time, my nerves were shot.  I tried again and the clicking died away.  A car that had followed us to our parking space and waited for me to back out, began impatiently honking it’s horn.  And I lost it.  I began cursing at the car and hitting the steering wheel because life, that one morning, was so horribly and completely unfair.
My daughter went silent and my mother started shuffling in her ratty backpack.
“Let them honk,” she told me.  “It’ll be okay.  We’ll just sit here and have a cookie and see if the car will start in a little while.”
She produced from her backpack, a plastic sandwich baggie with three candy cane cookies in it.
And I lost it all over again.  Between horrendous bouts of chemo and extreme exhaustion, my mom and I hadn’t been able to get together, but she had still made me her least, and my favorite, cookie, without me even knowing.  And here, with a dead battery and a dead-beat Santa, she was looking at me from beneath her itchy wig and comforting me with my favorite cookie. That morning, it made life no less unfair, but much more precious.
The car never started.  My husband had to come and give us all a lift home.
And the doctors didn’t know everything.  They didn’t know that my mother is stronger and more stubborn than any cancer.  She recovered and is in good health today, for which I am forever grateful.  She is at the center of both my children’s universe and mine too, although we have received the blessing of going back to living our normal lives.  We talk on the phone several times a day, argue and laugh and annoy one another.  I love her.  I am so lucky.
That is my most vivid Christmas memory.  Oh, and since then, we haven’t really made the candy cane cookies.  There is no need to.  We’ve already eaten the very best ones ever made and nothing will ever compare to them again.  Besides, I don’t need to hear my mother cussing.
Merry Christmas and may all our families be healthy and happy in the New Year!

Having come from a quite unconventional family, I didn't grow up with a lot of holiday traditions. Some years we baked treats, some years we had a tree, and some years we just had gifts and nothing much else. The main thing I remember from childhood Christmases, though, was the double-edged sword of having extended family close by. Now I love my aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and cousins, and it was nice to have most of them within a two-hour drive. But after waiting all year for that new bike or the coolest new video game, it really sucked to get to play with it for an hour or two and then have to bundle up into the car and leave it behind for the rest of the day. If not several days, depending on how much vacation time everyone had to spare.
That established the only major holiday tradition for my own little family: Christmas Day is OURS. We may go visiting on Christmas Eve, and people are more than welcome to stop by and see us at home, but we don't generally set foot off the property on December 25. We may not even change out of our jammies at any point. After years working in retail I consider Christmas a day of rest and relaxation, not a day of pomp and ceremony. Now that my daughter is getting older, we don't even do the crack-of-dawn gift frenzy anymore. It'll all still be there after we've had our long winter's nap. And we'll have all day to play with it.
I'd like to say we have more traditions, but the only other big one I can really think of is the food. Thanksgiving, of course, is for turkey. Following the German tradition from my mom's side of the family, we have a dinner of ham (since I don't do pork) and cabbage (slaw for me, and sauerkraut for those who will eat the stanky stuff) on New Year's Day. Older generations have repeated turkey and/or ham for Christmas dinner, but I prefer to make a nice pot roast. Can't forget the beef, now, can we? Especially not when the slow cooker does all the work and I can keep rocking my day of relaxation.
Lastly—and most importantly, in my eyes—our Christmases have always been about the kids. Money's often tight, especially around the end of the year. On the upside, being unconventional means you don't really give a damn about keeping up with the Jonses, so a few simple gifts between the adults is more than enough. Whatever extra dollars are available go into making the holidays special for the little ones (even though none of them are all that little anymore.) I'd like to hope I'm raising a kid who understands the true meaning of Christmas lies in the love of others and the joy of giving and not so much in stress and materialism. That's what Christmas means to me.

Every year, my family exchanges a white elephant present. White elephant is the tackiest, most useless thing we can find while we're shopping - OR a regift!
It is hysterically funny, and we always have a good time doing it. After they're opened, we vote on the worst gift, and that person gets a prize.
We also do the german tradition of hiding a pickle (ornament, not a real pickle, lol) in the tree. The kids search the tree, and whoever finds it gets what we call the pickle prize!
That's a taste if Christmas with the Grace family! Have a faery merry Christmas, and a bright New Year!"

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My tradition is to let my 4 boys decorate the tree. We have had some interesting ones!!! My book goal is to first re read my favourite series and also to try to read 200 books :) Ive read nearly 196 this year.

    1. LOVE it, Nat! Bet you've gotten some great pics over the years. ;)
      I hope to double my 2012 goal which was only 70. Was a very slow reading year for me. So I'm shooting for 140, but I'd be thrilled to reach 200. ~S

  2. My tradition is spending time with my children watching movies and having a awesome feast

  3. My tradition is to have dinner with friends and family with my own! I hope to read even more next year and maybe start writing a book of my own:) Thanks!