What Are AmberPax™ Collections?

Simply put, AmberPax™ Collections are groups of five stories centered around a specific theme. Each story within an AmberPax™ is released individually, on the same day as the others, and can be purchased separately, but these five stories can also be purchased as a single unit (the full AmberPax™) at a discount, currently 25%. Generally, an AmberPax™ is similar to an "anthology" of stories, but instead of the titles being released in only a single volume (file), they are also available individually. These AmberPax™ Collections are sold exclusively through our website and only in electronic format.

THIS BLOG is for news about the Pax Collections - follow it to keep up with releases, find early news of the upcoming collections, and share Pax fun and chat with the authors!

All Amber Paxes can be bought at Amber Quill HERE.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Thanks for coming!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by for our holiday office party! It was a fun month for us, and we hope for you, too.

Coming up in January is our Growl pax, featuring five werewolf stories brought to you by Carolina Valdez, Vivien Dean, Sean Michael, Darcy Abriel, and A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tomorrow Is the Big Day by Christiane France

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY and that means our party is all but over.

I love the Christmas season. The stories, the traditions, the shopping, the baking, and the anticipation. But most of all I love that magical moment around ten o’clock on Christmas Eve when I open my window and hear nothing but, absolute silence. I live in the center of a town that boasts close to half a million citizens so the moment lasts only a few seconds. Just long enough to remember a few special things like the phone call I made to my mom that first Christmas Eve after we came to Canada. It was my first time away from home so we spent most of the time crying. It also reminds me my mom and dad were married on Christmas Eve. It was a while before I was born, but I know the bride wore a cream satin dress and carried a bouquet of bronze chrysanthemums. The groom wore a navy suit, and the choir sang the carol, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. The way my mom described it to me, I’ve never been able to imagine anything more beautiful or more romantic than that simple candlelight ceremony in our old village church. 

This is the church of St. Mary le Moor where my parents were married: 

And this is The Old Ship—the local pub where my dad would go to fetch cold beer on a hot summer night after we’d finished haymaking. 

I wish everyone at Amber Quill and all our readers the very happiest of holidays, and I look forward to reading all the new Paxes we have planned for 2014…such as five stories balanced ON THE EDGE OF DANGER, five nail-biters on the subject of GHOSTS/HAUNTINGS, and five furry tails involving CAT SHIFTERS.

And now for a tiny bit of personal promo. I love the two main characters in this story. They were so meant for one another from the moment their eyes first met and their hearts began to beat a little faster…

 One Perfect Night 
by Christiane France 
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-502-8 (Electronic) 

Paul knew Nico was special the moment they exchanged that first glance at Termini station in Rome late one hot summer afternoon. And when it was announced their train had been cancelled and travel suspended until further notice, they explored their feelings over dinner and spent one perfect night of passion in a nearby hotel. 

Early next morning, when Nico found a flight cancellation and took off, all Paul knew was his first name. 

Two years later, Paul hasn’t forgotten Nico, and now when they meet again at another train station in London, the chemistry is still there. Nico believes Fate brought them together, and is ready to close his eyes and jump into a relationship. Paul, however, believes they need to be sensible, to first check the water and then take it one step at a time. Which man’s strategy will prevail? 

NOTE: This story is part of the London Calling series. (This title is also part of the ALL ABOARD AmberPax Collection.)

Cool mysteries and hot romance - http://www.chrisgrover.ca
Latest release: A HAPPY CHRISTMAS ENDING (London Calling series)
Coming soon: IT’S COMPLICATED
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http://christianefrance.blogspot.ca/


Monday, 23 December 2013

So This Is Christmas by A.J. Llewellyn

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot…
From "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell

The first year I moved to Los Angeles from my home in Sydney, Australia, I was a film student with stars in my eyes. I loved old movies, loved old Hollywood. In 1983, Los Angeles was a different time and place. A lot of the old Hollywood buildings were being torn down. The destruction had been going on for a long time by then but within the span of a few weeks, both the iconic Schwab's Drugstore and The Brown Derby, were set to be demolished.

My best friend Louise and I went to lunch at Schwab's on its last day. Oh how magnificent it was with its wooden, private telephone booths. The huge black phones took dimes. A couple of years later, calls went up to a quarter, but I digress.

We ordered salads, which I have to say were awful. Mine was a fruit salad, and everything was canned, except for the scoop of cottage cheese, which tasted sour. I guess on the drugstore's last day they didn't want to be bothered with fresh food items. Or had it always served sub-par food?

Louise and I stared at the soda fountain and its stools, famous for being the place where Lana Turner was discovered. My illusions were shattered that day to learn that this was not true. It was Hollywood lore.

I've had a lot of illusions shattered here over the years, but sometimes, small miracles occur.

My first Christmas here was the worst I ever had. I had no money and my roommates and I scraped enough funds together to buy vegetables. We had potatoes and turnips. And a single carrot. The turnip bake was so awful I still can't look at turnips to this day!

However, we were together, sort of, and had hopes for the future. The next day I scored a part-time job driving hearses for the now-defunct Graveline Tours. I could have a little extra money to supplement my income working nights in a video store (memba them?) and my film school education.

My job entailed my driving around town showing people where the dead stars were buried. Sometimes I got to branch out, especially when they asked for special requests. I often drove people to the steps, the only remaining piece of the famed Trocadero club, at 8610 Sunset Boulevard. The steps are still there on the side of Chin Chin's Chinese restaurant.

I often think of all the celebrities who took those stairs to dine and dance…sigh.

Hollywood's history is frequently whimsical - the fairy bridges Walt Disney started in east LA but never finished, for example - but more often tragic. I had a client who knew where many of the dead stars had died. He had a thing about silent screen star, Florence Lawrence, who is known as "The World's First Movie Star" though I had never heard of her before. She committed suicide eating ant paste in 1938. 

Ant paste! 

We drove to the address he gave me, 532 Westbourne Drive in West Hollywood. The little green cottage still looks the same today, but I do wonder about the life expectancy of the neighborhood's ants…

The same client also had a passion to find The Aftonian, a 1920s apartment building in which silent screen star Marie Prevost drank herself to death. The story back then was that her dachshund, left alone with her dead body began to chew her limbs. I've since seen photos that prove it (eew!) but today the idea is disputed. 

The building is still there at 6231 Afton Place. I find it ironic that its new owners are marketing the recently refurbished dogs as "Paradise" considering that the Hollywood I love, which really was a paradise, is gone.

One of my favorite places to take my clients back in the early 80s was a bank in the same stretch of Sunset Boulevard as Schwab's. Lytton Savings & Loan (now defunct) had a mini replica of the majestic and ethereal Garden of Allah, built by the silent screen star Nazimova. For those of us who've seen the gardens in photos (still available online) the replica was a godsend. We got a taste of how it looked, how it was. Hollywood's playground.

The bank, which stood on the old site of the gardens is now a Chase Bank and Schwab's is a McDonalds. But most of the massive lot on the southwest corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights is a parking lot.

Joni Mitchell lamented this sort of development in her wonderful song, "Big Yellow Taxi."


I wonder what she thinks about the destruction that began on December 19 on the former North Hollywood home of Marilyn Monroe. I talked to the wrecking crew as I took a snap of the little cottage posted above and none of them knew the place's history.

Nor did they care.

I met the former owner, Mrs. Affatata some years ago and she had a yellowed newspaper clipping that showed a photo of a young and gorgeous Marilyn outside the guest cottage. Marilyn lived there in 1947 during her time as an RKO starlet.

Mrs. Affatata remembered her former tenant as being giggly and often forgot to pay the rent, but, "She was nice. So nice."

Once again, they're taking down paradise and putting up a generic apartment block.

Way to go Hollywood!

I feel this year as Christmas approaches that I am coming full circle since my first Christmas here in LA. This year, I have family and friends, a wonderful life, and I am still building castles in the air.

This year, this Christmas, whatever you dream is, begin it. Do it. Don't let anyone pave over your idea of paradise. I think the fragility of dreams and wishes needs hope, now more than ever. I wish you all a very happy Christmas and very festive holiday season. I wish you love, happiness and big, beautiful accomplishments in 2014.

Aloha oe (With love),

A.J.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Midwinter Solstice and the Pagan Roots of Christmas by Deirdre O'Dare

Yes, long before the birth of the Holy Child some two millennia ago, there were midwinter festivals and celebrations in much of the northern hemisphere! We may regard those prehistoric predecessors of ours as primitive and think of them as childlike or lacking in intelligence and discernment. Be that as it may, they lived close to nature and the vagaries of the world and its climate. They were also keen observers. Since their livelihood depended on managing their activities in accordance with the cycle of the seasons they paid close attention to the travels of the celestial bodies they could see.

They learned that the sun, the most visible and significant one, came and went over the course of a year and built monuments to track the motions.. To appease this critical giver of light and heat, they developed mythologies to personify this great light and worshipped the sun as a deity. Midwinter marked the point at which the sun stopped moving farther to the south and again began to return to heat and light the northern half of the world for the coming of spring—time to plant, nurture the young livestock and perhaps forge into the wilderness to hunt and gather. 

The ancient ones developed elaborate rituals to mark the main turning points of the year’s cycle, of which the midwinter solstice was a key one. Customs grew up around this particular festival which have come down to us to this very day from ancestors among the Germanic, Latin and Celtic peoples of Europe.

As historian Will Durant said in his tome The Story of Civilization, "Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it.” The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church...the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other Pagan cultures contributed to the syncretistic result. From Egypt came the idea of a divine trinity...from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child...from Phrygia the worship of the Great Mother....The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world"

In short, many prior religious worshiped the sun in one persona or another: Mithras, Sol, Lugh etc. I suspect the early Christian leaders decided it would be a lot easier to take over pagan festivals and gradually “Christianize” them than to try to stamp them out and create new ones on other dates. It’s a very short stretch from the usual solstice date of December 21 to the Christmas date of December 25! There is little scientific or historical basis to claim that December 25 was the actual date of Christ’s birth but I won’t go into that! But I will mention it was several hundred years before Christmas was made official by the church leaders of the time.

Here are a few samples of some of the customs and rituals that migrated into our modern observance:  

--In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

--In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. It wss in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining folks and probably expecting alms and treats! From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born. (“Here we come a wassailing…”)

--In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The mostly Germanic pagans of northern Europe celebrated their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year. Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means "wheel," the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun and also for the cycle of the seasons through the year. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Holly berries were thought to be a food of the gods. The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were carried as totems of good luck and often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids (Celtic) used trees as religious symbols, holding their sacred ceremonies in groves, often of evergreens and oaks, which frequently support mistletoe.

--Santa Claus and gift-giving had a variety of ancient and pagan roots as well. The Norse god, Odin was the gift-bringer, and rode the wintry night skies at midnight in a chariot drawn by his magical eight-legged steed, bringing presents to the good and punishing those who were bad. In other northern realms, such as Lapland, merchants wore red fur-trimmed cloaks to protect them from the cold.  They crossed the snowy lands in sleighs, likewise delivering gifts. Those northern merchants supposedly had helpers: dwarves who lived underground and were most skilled at crafting toys! Since our newer Santa Claus has his beginning deep in the pagan mists of time, he was unable to pass the rowan and holly which the old Celts used to protect their homes from the fey.  That's why Santa opted to enter homes through the chimney!

So whether you are Christian, pagan or some other religious persuasion, you can enjoy whatever of these venerable traditions appeal to you and celebrate this dark, cold season with merriment, cheer, fires and candles, good food and drink, exchange of presents with friends and family and decorating with evergreens, holly, mistletoe, and red and green in many things from apples to velvet bows. The roots of this season and its festivities go back deep into the darkest shadows of prehistory and have been honored and kept for thousands of years.  

I actually celebrate both the Midwinter Solstice and Christmas or as I often call it, Yule. I don’t worship the sun but I am very sun-oriented or heliotropist and feel I draw my personal energy from the sun. I languish when the days are dark and winter is my least favorite season so naturally I greet the beginning of the solar path back my direction with joy! 

And I’ve been a Christmas fan since childhood –it is just fun! I may not go all out as I did when I had kids at home or tried to make it special for my two kid brothers long ago but the day will not go unmarked, I can guarantee! “Peace on earth” is certainly a wonderful promise or dream and we must hold that hope in our hearts lest we totally succumb to the shadow and bleakness of our world’s “winter” of violence, prejudice and hatred. May the sun of love, peace and kinship for all come back this way again!.

In the spirit of the season, I will be Odin’s handmaiden and offer a gift for one reader who comments either here or on my own blog, www.deirdredares.blogspot.com/ where I will post a related piece to this one for the holiday week. You can have your choice of the PAX stories that I had released this year in the download format of your choice. The selections are A Different Drummer, Dark and Stormy and Last Train to Clarkdale. Drummer is a contemporary tale with a music background, Dark is a Gothic historical and Last Train is a contemporary tale with some railroad atmosphere. Take your choice! Check them out at www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_ODare.html 

Meanwhile have a joyful holiday season however and whatever you celebrate and may the coming year treat you kindly! Go in peace and harmony. And as my pagan friends say, “Blessed be.” 

Deidre O'Dare

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Difference Between Family Recipes and Folk Tales by Adrianna Dane

An odd title perhaps, but I couldn’t help making the comparison because when we talk about recipes around this time of year in many cases were talking about family traditions, which then goes hand in hand with storytelling, and moving briskly along,  into folk tales handed down generation to generation.

Which brings me to my recipe, for the sweet treat my Italian grandmother used to make, handed down from her mother who came to this country through Ellis Island from a town near Rome, Italy, back around 1892, and so on, and so on. Tales handed down, as I said.

The dish, well, it’s called “Fried Things.” Yup, that’s the title I grew up with. Fried dough strips sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. I spent quite a bit of time trying to discover a proper name for these “fried things.” (It’s like the quiche my grandmother made at Easter, just called, “ham and egg pie,” but that’s for another time.)

I recall when I was in my teens, we stopped at an Italian grocery store in Schenectady, New York, on Saturday, and what did I see? A boxed desert that looked just like what my grandmother made. Written on the square box was the word,  “Eyuans.” At last! I’d found a name. I was so excited.

So here I am today, with a recipe I make every year, handed down through generations of my mother’s family, and as a writer who lives for research, I decided to look up once again to confirm the name of this family favorite. So here’s what I found.

There are, as with folk tales, a number of variations on a theme. Names I discovered: Fried things (yes, someone else really does use that same name and Googling the term actually worked), E Yuans, E Wands, Guanti, Wandi, Nocatelle, and, yes, fried dough.. (see, http://www.lindasitaliantable.com/tag/italian-fried-dough/). Now, a little hint here, a lot of these other recipes call for...liquor. Now, why didn’t my grandmother ever tell me about that lovely little ingredient? A little wine here, a splash of Anisette there. You decide. Yum. Now I really could have enjoyed that added embellishment.

But my family recipe is a simpler dish, likely altered through the years before leaving the homeland region of Italy. So this is the dish I thought I’d share it with you for this holiday season. The photo, accompanying this recipe came from this year’s batch currently sitting on my festive kitchen table. Enjoy!

“Fried Things”


12 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (unmelted Crisco)
salt (a couple of pinches)
Flour (lots of flour - I guesstimate around 6+ cups). A cup at a time until you get a good consistency to start kneading (no, I don’t use machines, just elbow power) on a floured surface until it stops sticking to your fingers and nice and smooth.

Roll out on a floured board. (I do this in sections.) Leave on the table for a while. Do not fry right away. Cut with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter into strips. Fry a few at a time. After cooled, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Sorry, that’s what you get with a family recipe, shady on the exact amounts of anything. My first batch many, many years ago was a dismal failure. Since then I learned, family recipes consist of making, tasting, looking, enjoying. Try, try, again...don’t quit. Just like writing come to think of it. :-)

Okay, so enjoy. If this recipe doesn’t work for you, perhaps try the version at http://www.lindasitaliantable.com/tag/italian-fried-dough/. I’m off to check the grocery list to make sure I have all I need for the baked ziti on Christmas Eve (mmm, I can already smell the garlic bread and taste the hot sausage), and the strawberry omelets for Christmas morning.

Buon Natale, everybody!

Adrianna 



Thursday, 19 December 2013

Happy Winter from Sean Michael

Happy whatever you celebrate! I happen to celebrate both winter and Christmas – one of my favorite holidays and my absolute favorite time of year. I could (and have) rhapsodized about the snow in the past. I’m going to spare you today and instead give you the recipe for one of my favorite Christmas treats – easy to make and yummy as well. And beneath that is a small holiday snippet featuring a pair of characters from one of my books.

Christmas Cranberry Salad

Chop 1 bag of cranberries, put in a bowl with 1 cup of sugar, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Drain it of excess liquid in the morning, add 1 small can of crushed or tidbits pineapple (also drained), and 1 cup of chopped pecans, mix together.

Whip up two cups of whipping cream until peaks form, add gently but thoroughly to cranberry mixture. Cover and put back in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

This tastes better if it’s had all day or even overnight to sit.

Christmas snippet

I wrote a little Christmas snippet featuring the characters of Working it Out.


Affton lit the candles and set out the champagne and some lovely appetizers he'd brought home next to their big chair in the den. It was the night of the office party and he was dressed up in a sharp grey suit with a lavender shirt. Luke was still changing and if he didn't come out soon, Aft was going to go in and rescue him. 

“Do you think the blue tie, love?” Nerves were evident in Luke's voice, though he was trying to hide them.

"I think you should skip the tie -- I did." Come on, lover, come out and see what I've done.

“Oh?” Luke came out, gasping at the sight of the candles, the wine. 

He grinned. "I thought we'd have our own office party right here."

“Affton…” That was an amazing smile.

He opened his arms. "Merry early Christmas, Luke."

His lover came right to him, pushed in his arms. He took a kiss, then another. Sitting, he drew Luke down with him. "You want to start with champagne, appetizers or me?"

“You, no question.”

He beamed at Luke and took another kiss. It was going to be the best Christmas party ever.

*_*_*_*

Happy New Year! See you in 2014

Sean Michael
Smut fixes everything
www.seanmichaelwrites.com
http://twitter.com/seanmichael09
http://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites
http://sean-michael.livejournal.com/

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Giveaway Winner #2

It's hard to believe Christmas is only a week away! But that means two things around here. We will have a week to go of posts from some of your favorite Amber Allure authors, and it's time to announce the winner of our second giveaway!

And the winner of a free pax collection of her choice is....Susan!

I have your email, so expect an email from us very soon!

Don't forget, we're giving away one more pax collections this month. All comments made between 12/18 and 12/24 will go into a hat next Wednesday for the chance to win!

Remembering Christmas Past by Heidi Champa

When I visit my mother, sometimes I drive by the house where my grandparents used to live. It’s a small farm set back from the road, nothing fancy. When the trees are bare, I can see all the way back to the barn. I spent so much time there growing up; summers picking vegetables in order to earn our way into the swimming pool and random Sundays around the dinner table.

But, it’s the holidays that I’ll always remember in that house. The Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Christmas, we’d pile into the family van and drive to my grandparent’s house, my father turning down the car stereo as we pulled onto their quiet street. He did it every time and to this day, I still really don’t know why.

The moment you walked into the house, you were hit by the heat of the wood burning stove, even if it wasn’t that cold outside. Over the years, we learned not to wear anything heavier than a t-shirt to our grandparent’s dinners. We’d make our way to the basement, which was equipped with a full kitchen, where most of the dinner would be prepared. The turkey would be roasting in the oven, while the filling* baked in the oven upstairs.

My mother and her sisters would help get everything ready while I’d run around with my cousins. When we got older, we’d steal away into one of the bedrooms upstairs to gossip and talk about boys until called for dinner.

There would always be two long tables running almost the whole length of the basement and one table off to the side for the “children.” Which in our family meant the unruly teenagers all got to sit together. We’d laugh at our great uncle Walter’s inappropriate jokes and giggle at the way my aunts would bicker.

It was the best time. At the dinner after Thanksgiving, we’d exchange names to tell us who we needed to buy a gift for. At the dinner after Christmas, my uncle would hide little trinkets and we’d all participate in a scavenger hunt. We took it all very seriously, as there was a prize to be had at the end.

When those dinners ended, the holidays never felt the same. It was inevitable, people get older, houses get sold and things change. But, without those dinners, a part of Christmas was always missing for me.

As I sat on the side of the road and stared at the house where so many of my memories live, I couldn’t help but feel a bit misty. I pictured us in that basement, its Linoleum floor printed with a shuffleboard court. I can only hope that the people who live there can still feel the spirit of our family at this time of year. That the years of good times and laughs have imbued the place with some of the magic I used to feel being there.

I know whoever sleeps in the blue room will never know how many secrets those walls heard and I know that the new owners will never get to see my grandfather in his customary blue pants walking the lane to the barn, his trusty Border collie Honey trailing behind him. But, I hope they love the place half as much as we all did. I hope they are busy making holiday memories of their own, to go along with all of ours.

Happy Holidays, everyone. May you feel the magic of the season, no matter where you are.


*Here is a recipe for filling. It isn’t my grandmother’s recipe, as we never use one. It’s one of those things you just know in our family. But, this will give you the idea. J

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas is... by Vivien Dean

When I was growing up, Christmas was cookies.

Lots of them. And I don't mean lots as a euphemism. I mean, making hundreds of dozens of more than forty kinds in a span of less than two months.

See, my grandmother was renowned in our small community for her cooking skills, and one of her specialties was baked goods. Every Christmas, she made cookies for the family, something that segued into giving cookies as gifts to others. Then, someone convinced her they were good enough to sell, and boom! Her Christmas business began.

It was insane. She made every kind of cookie under the sun. Orders went out in trays of six dozen. She did the baking, while my three siblings and I, along with my mom and uncle, filled the orders and wrapped them up. Though I loved them, I swore when I moved out for college that I would never look at another Christmas cookie ever again.

But the very first Christmas I couldn't go home, I was miserable. In an attempt to cheer myself up, I made cookies, because I needed that connection to my missing family. I didn't go nuts like Grandma did, but I made a couple kinds and gave all my extras to people at work. Guess what? They raved. And just like that, I was picking up the tradition again.

Now, I'm not crazy like Grandma. I do not have the time or energy to do what she did. But my kids and I pick out a dozen or so recipes every year to make together. It's part of what Christmas is to us. There is one cookie we always do, however, because both my kids love it so much. It's a cappuccino spice cookie, and since I can't share an actual plate of cookies with you, I'll do the next best thing. Here's the recipe:

*_*_*_*

CAPPUCCINO SPICE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tbsp boiling water
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg or cloves (I used nutmeg)
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Dissolve coffee in boiling water.
3. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, coffee, and vanilla; beat until well blended.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in medium bowl.
5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until well blended.
6. Stir in chocolate chips.
7. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Let stand on cookie sheets 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

NOTES: I actually don't do it as a random drop cookie, but instead make them into balls and then flatten them slightly so they're a little more uniform. They do spread, but not tons, and doing it with the slightly flattening method means they cook more evenly. The drop method requires more time in my oven in order to get the centers completely done. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

*_*_*_*

In addition to commenters being up for the free pax collection Amber Quill Press is offering, I'm having a giveaway as well. In honor of my grandmother, who passed along two of her passions to me - cooking and books - I'm giving away these two pairs of earrings to one lucky commenter on today's post:


What I want to know is...how would you finish the sentence, "Christmas is..."? (Or whatever holiday you might be celebrating this time of year)

Have a wonderful holiday!

Vivien Dean

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Christmas Memory by Carolina Valdez

My family lived in a small town where there wasn’t much to do, so when the lights went on again at the end of World War II, riding with my family crowded around me to see the lights that first Christmas Eve was a very special treat. 

One tree, in a wealthy home, shone from a big bay window, a glorious vision in gleaming blue and silver, its lights winking blue on the white snow outside. Daddy stopped the car so we could study it. Mother said a professional must have decorated it because each ball had been placed in perfect symmetry, every foil icicle hung with exact precision equidistant from the other. A silvery glass spire crowned the top.  

We had never had—would never have—such a breathtakingly beautiful tree. But I will when I’m grown. 

I grew up, married, we had children. I’d still planned to have the tree of my dreams, but one year, our preschooler produced a white Styrofoam cup with a few red sequins glued on it and a green wire stuck up through the bottom.

“It’s a bell,” she said, obviously pleased with her work as I helped her hang it on a branch.

From kindergarten, our second born brought home a lopsided paper angel for the top. My heart ached as I removed the red and gold glass spire inherited from my late mother for the angel, but his eyes shone with delight.   

Our second grader handed me a brown construction paper reindeer made in school. Brads allowed its legs to move. It was almost as large as our live tree, and such trees are never perfect. There is always a hole. Dad covered this one with the reindeer.

The kids decorated the tree as they grew a little older and crafted new items to go on it. One evening, I cringed as I watched them hang the ornaments haphazardly, and then throw the foil icicles on. At least they’d learned to cover the hole with that ugly brown reindeer. 

Enough of this, I finally said to myself. Next year, I will decorate.

At that moment, I watched them step back, and our daughter cried, “It’s our best tree yet!”

Dismay spread through me as I realized what I hadn’t understood—to me it might be a hodgepodge, but to them it was their creation and satisfyingly beautiful.  

Our kids grew up, married and have their own children now. On our tree the ornaments they crafted that were uniquely theirs, mingle with those made by their children and those from stores. Every family member’s interests are represented there—sports, music, art, writing and pets.

My husband and I switched to an artificial tree not long ago, and, would you believe it has a hole? Oh, yes. We, of course, have the perfect solution for it. 

It’s no longer important that I’ll never have the tree of my dreams. We have the gloriously creative and wonderfully perfect tree for our family.  

May your holidays be touched with memories that bring you joy,

Carolina Valdez
http://www.CarolinaValdez.com
Twitter @carolina_valdez
http://fingerstothekeys.wordpress.com









Friday, 13 December 2013

Happy Hobbity Holidays by K-lee Klein

With less than two weeks before Christmas, I'm still not in the mindset for presents or decorations or celebrating. But it's not because I'm a scrooge or a bah-humbug type person. I'm just completely focused on something that will be a fabulous memory by the time this is posted—the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug comes out on Friday and I have tickets for the midnight showing on Thursday. Yay!

I'm not going to dwell on my excitement or make you listen to my obsessive banter about how much I love the Heirs of Durin (Thorin, Fili & Kili, of course), but just let me say I'm over-the-moon electrified. Yes, I'm dwarf-obsessed and I'm very proud of that fact because, dammit, I've waited a whole year for this movie. And I'll wait another whole year for the third one in the trilogy.

I've watched the red carpet premieres, followed the news from the actors, bought the merchandise, indulged in all the little pictures and tidbits and oh-my-god hints that director Peter Jackson has let loose, and Thursday night is the big day…night. 

So by the time you read this, I will be a satisfied woman, at least until I buy my next set of tickets. I did see the first movie six times in the theatre and I own both the regular DVD and extended version so there will definitely be another few rounds for me. I was never really a Ringer (Lord of the Rings super fan) but this movie has just slayed me. Plus, being a fan of several of the actors before the movie definitely helped me settle in.

Now…what was I saying? I wasn't going to make you listen to my Hobbit talk, right? Guess I failed in that regard big time. Christmas, right? I think Christmas is different now that my kids are grown than when they were small. We still get together and my daughter, who lives in another province, comes home and we indulge in gifts and family time, but the excitement of having little kids around the Christmas tree just can't be beat, can it?

But one of the things I do look forward to every year, on top of all the family stuff, is the lights. I have a string of blue lights up year round, plus a set of multi-coloured ones in my room, but seeing the houses lit up so beautifully just takes my breath away. Sometimes I stare out the front window at my own little lit-up yard and it puts a smile on my face.

In Calgary we have something called Zoolights which is exactly as it sounds—the zoo dresses up in a beautiful array of coloured animals, scenery and just WOW. It's truly gorgeous and even in the chill night air that is usually Calgary in December, it's awesome. Last year, my family spent Christmas in Vancouver with my daughter and we went to something similar there. What's better than the festive, child-like excitement of the world lit up in strings of brilliant, dazzling lights anyhow?

In closing, I wish you all a very happy holiday season filled with bright, shining lights, and all the best in the new year. Oh, and did I mention what my family is doing first when my daughter comes into town—family dinner and movie night. I bet you can't guess what movie we're seeing.

K-lee Klein
Website: kleeklein.com

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Cluttered Confessions by Marie Sexton

Happy Holidays! Can you even believe Christmas is right around the corner? I still have gifts to buy, decorations to put up, and (before I can even start decorating) an unbelievably messy house to clean. Yes, I hate to admit it, but my house is a DISASTER. I’m not quite ready to land on reality TV, but it’s still overwhelming. 


Now, I should clarify: my house isn’t DIRTY. There’s no mold, or rotting food, or piles of trash. We don’t have mice, or cockroaches (one of the benefits of living in Colorado). The house doesn’t stink, and I even scrub the toilets on a pretty regular basis. But good lord, do we have clutter! Piles of shoes and mittens by the door, stuffed animals and books and Legos in the living room, and so much mail and homework on the kitchen table that it’s hard to find a place to eat. The hallway is filled with baskets of clean laundry nobody wants to put away, half the kitchen counter is covered with stuff my husband promised to take to the garage, and the pantry is becoming a game of Tetris. Even my bathtub is littered with toys. 

Yeah. It’s that bad. I’m a friggin’ hot mess. And here’s the thing: our entire family will be coming HERE for Christmas. 

I’ll be honest: I’m beginning to panic. The thing is, DH and I both come from cluttered homes. We’ve come by our slipshod ways honestly. My father tends to hoard mail, newspapers, and magazines, my mother hoards crafting stuff, and DH’s mother hoards… well, just about everything. So on the bright side, our parents don’t judge us when they drop by and have to face an obstacle course to reach the family room, but still, that’s not an excuse to leave it messy. After all, this is Christmas. We’ll be cooking food and eating and drinking, then opening presents, all of which will make an even bigger mess. And better to put that mess in a clean space instead of on top of the existing mess, right? RIGHT?

How does that even make any sense?

That’s the thing about cleaning: it never lasts. You pick everything up just so you have an empty canvas to fill with clutter again. It’s like shoveling while it’s still snowing – you just can’t win, and the only thing you really succeed in doing is making yourself a bit more frazzled. So why bother? No matter how clean the house is when all those guests arrive Christmas morning, it’ll still be a mess – filled with torn paper, new toys, and empty wine glasses – by the time they all leave at the end of the day. 


So where does that leave me? Well, still panicking. Still sure I have to clean. And (having confessed all that publicly), feeling a bit like I do in those dreams where I’m giving a lecture only to look down and realize I forgot to put on a shirt and bra. But in the end, whatever happens, we’ll have fun. We’ll enjoy each other’s company. We’ll open presents, and ooh and aah, and take turns playing with my daughter’s new toys. We’ll eat too much and drink too much and doze on couches and in chairs as well as we can. We’ll watch football on one TV, and Firefly on the other, and laugh frequently. We’ll be a family. 

And I’ll live to clean the mess another day. 

*_*_*_*

You can find Marie at http://mariesexton.net/, and on Facebook and Twitter. 



Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Giveaway Winner #1

Our month-long holiday office party is just beginning, but we've got a prize to give away already! Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by and comment the past ten days. Pulling the lucky name out of the hat, the free pax collection goes to...

Antonia!

If you could please email me at vivien_dean@yahoo.com, we'll get your prize to you as soon as possible!

Don't forget, we're giving away two more pax collections this month. All comments made between 12/11 and 12/17 will go into a hat next Wednesday for the chance to win!

Monday, 9 December 2013

16 Sleeps until Christmas??

It's already Dec 9th and I'm not ready! I haven't bought many presents, I haven't sent my cards, I haven't booked my grocery shopping. Has this Christmas caught anyone else on the hop?!

In my home, we're a small family group and I think sometimes we forget to prepare for official holiday celebrations like this. And that's for a good reason - we celebrate a lot of times, just for the fun of it, all through the year :). Luckily it's easy to get us all together in one place, and we've always enjoyed making the most of birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations etc.

Christmas is just one more get-together, right?

Well, of course it's not really. Christmas is special to many people, and especially to us - from all the school Advent and Christmas shows, the Christingle services at church, the carol concerts, the ritual putting up of the tree. Next week I'll be attending a carol concert at the school where my sister teaches. Then there's an evening out with work colleagues. And we'll be celebrating with Son#2 who has the dubious joy of a Dec birthday.

Just for amusement - Sons and I dashed around to the church last year to go to Midnight Mass, to find it had been rescheduled to 9.30pm and we'd already missed it! We weren't the only ones, either. We stood on the pavement and joked with the other hapless mass-goers who also hadn't checked their newsletter carefully enough, then wished each other happy Christmas and came back home to the warmth inside. I rather think our local priest - who's very elderly, and has had problems in the past with drunk part-goers gatecrashing the services - was enjoying that too!

Looking forward to 2014, I'm pleased to say I'm writing again after a brief hiatus. I have no Pax titles on the horizon just yet, but I'm rather pleased that PAX of course means "peace" - and that's what I'm looking forward to and hoping for in this holiday season, for everyone.

Enjoy yourselves! And yes, I will attempt to organise myself for Christmas, starting this week! :)


PS and don't forget that all comments on the blog this month will get entered in the draw for a whole Pax collection of your choice! details here.




Clare London
Writing ... Man to Man

Click to email me

http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_London.html

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Angel at the End of the Road by D.J. Manly

Question: Do you think you are one of my greatest fans? Have you read more of my books than any other reader? Well…then prove it! I’m looking for the reader who can make the best case for being my greatest fan. The winner will receive a copy of my upcoming mystery at Amber, called The Angel at the End of the Road…out December 22nd…which I’m going to talk about here on the blog.

Writing the mystery Novel:

I’d never seen myself as a mystery-thriller writer until I wrote Blood Pond. Frankly, I was surprised Blood Pond and the sequel, Blood Pond Revisited, struck a chord with so many individuals.  Sure there were two dynamic gay men, and some hot sex, but mostly Blood Pond was a mystery, a story or loss and pain and murder, with a romance simmering in the back ground. It is what is known in the writing world as a cross-genre story. Indeed to the purist in the field writing mystery, it isn’t advised to mix mystery and romance, but once I wrote Blood Pond, I was addicted. I wrote a few more mystery/romances after that. And then, last summer, I wrote The Angel at the End of the Road.

I have to tell you about this book because I am super excited about it. The story came to me in a dream. It woke me up and compelled me to write it. The entire story and the characters came alive and everything fell into place like a stack of cards. I’m still not sure why. 

After I wrote it, I held onto to it, debating which publisher should have it, reluctant to let it go. Once I made my decision to give it to Amber, I told my publisher how I felt about it and of course, he understood, gently prying it away while my heart held on. 

The following is the synopsis and an excerpt.  But don’t go away, after that, I want to tell you about what it’s like at my house for Christmas. 

Synopsis of The Angel at The End of The Road

Colton can’t wait to finally end it with the rich and shallow Martin. Their relationship has been a mistake from the beginning. But just when Colton feels that he’s made it clear to Martin it’s over, he gets a phone call that will change his life forever. 

Whitfield, Vermont is the sleepy little town where Colton grew up, a town he couldn’t wait to leave, a town where one of his high school friends was murdered years before, left on a road that goes nowhere. The murderer was never found, yet a stoic old man named George Hill was the main suspect, the man who lived in the only house on that road. 

But now another boy is dead, the boy found at the end of that lonely road, laid out the same way his best friend was.   

This time the victim is Colton’s fifteen year old nephew. 

The old man whom everyone suspected of the first murder died a few years back which means the murderer is still out there and Colton won’t rest until he finds him. 

*_*_*_*

Whitfield. Population, 3024. Colton's parents had grown up in this town, were high school sweethearts. All their family and friends had been here but then times got hard and people moved away in search of work or adventure.  

Colton could never see himself spending his life here. From the time that he was an adolescent, he dreamt of getting out, seeing the world. That was one of the reasons he'd joined the military right out of high school. The military gave him the chance to complete university and then go to journalism school. 

As Colton drove down the main street, he got a stab of nostalgia. He'd spent a lot of time hanging out at the Whitfield Café. When he was a teenager they still had an old jukebox and he used to love to thumb through the metal layers and check out the song titles. The post office was still there with the old clock that never told the right time. The grocery store was now three times larger, with the drug store inside and a bakery. It took up the entire corner block. There was once an old black smith shop there. The thing was practically falling down. Finally the town tore it down.

The medical building lay across the way, a dental office side by side with the clinic. The town hall attached to the fire hall and police station down the street, and the flower shop where his mother worked part time. 

Houses and a few apartment buildings mixed with assorted small business paved the way to the residential side streets. Brenda and Clifford lived near Whitfield School, which was both elementary and high school, the wings separated by a fence. Brenda taught tenth grade. Clifford was a long distance trucker and was only home about four days a month. He'd had his own truck a few years back but had to sell it when he couldn't make the payments. After that he went to work for a trucking company in Newport.

As Colton passed his sisters' house on Bell Street, which was across the street from the Whitfield Baptist Church, he noticed all the lights were on and there were several vehicles parked outside, one of them a squad car. 

Clifford's family, the Warehouses’ were church going Baptists. Colton was sure that Clifford's mother had already gotten the Pastor John Price involved.  

Colton pulled into the church's parking lot, unable to find any other place along the street. He knew Brenda probably was in need of escape. He took a chance, pulled out his cell phone and dialed her cell. It rang a few times then Brenda picked up. "Colton, please God, tell me it's you and you're outside my house."

"I'm here, honey," he told her. "I'm across the street in front of the church."

"I'll be right out." 

She hung up. Colton shoved the phone back into his pocket.

Seconds later he saw the front door of the house across the street swing open and his sister came across to him. He stepped up to meet her. She threw herself into his arms and hugged him tight to her. She didn't cry. 

Colton swallowed, the air stinging his eyes and she whispered in his ears. "Thank God, Colton, thank God you're here. I can't go back in there." She stood back and looked at him. "Everyone is telling me that my boy is dead. I can't…" She bit her bottom lip. "I can't, Colton."

Colton took her hand. "Come on, let's walk a little."

Their steps echoed against the pavement as they walked hand in hand. There were no words he could say, nothing that would make it better. So he said nothing. Her hand tightened in his, assuring him that was enough.  She'd heard enough words. 

They turned onto Main Street and she said, "Do you remember when we were kids and we used to think that this place was so dull. Nothing ever happened here and when it did, it was always such a big deal."

"I remember."

"Well," she said, looking at him, "I never wanted to be the big deal when it happened, Colton, but I am. I'm the big deal that never happens in this pissy little town." 

He swallowed hard. 

They walked again, past the florist and the medical building, past the grocery store and the café. It was after nine. Already closed. The cemetery lay up ahead, that peaceful place surrounded by trees. 

"No, don't," He stopped her as she kept walking. "Brenda, please don't."

She looked straight ahead. "We can't bury him. He's lying in some cold place. They've taken him to Newport to look for …" She heaved. "My boy. In Newport on a slab."

The tears that had stilled in Colton's eyes began to move slowly down his cheeks but he didn't make a sound. He held it inside for her. 

"What good does it do for them to poke and prod him now, Colton?" She looked at him. "It won't bring him back." She shook her head. "Even if they find who did this, it won't bring him back."

"I know," he said softly. His words just seemed to float away in the night sky. 

"Let's go back," she said.

Colton was relieved she wasn't going to go the cemetery. He felt as if his emotions were hanging by a thread as it was. It was the last place he wanted to be. 

"I'm going to stay with Mom and you tonight."

He put and arm around her and hugged her. "Okay."

"I hate him," she whispered under her breath.

Colton knew who she was talking about. 

"He made me go there all alone. I sat in the back of the police car. I thought I'd die, not knowing. And then when I saw him, saw Nathan on that ….in that room…when they took the sheet off, I died again. He was drunk, Colton," she turned and looked at him, indignation on her face, "he was drunk! He cried like a child, told me to forgive him, told me he was weak. But I know. I know he's weak and…I despise his character. He's always drunk."

She was right. He remembered Clifford even being drunk on his wedding day. His friends had taken him out the night before and gotten him wasted. He was in bad shape at the wedding and even though he was only seventeen when Brenda had married Clifford, Colton had told her she was making a mistake.

He wiped at his face when she wasn't looking and thought of how much pain his sister was carrying. He wanted to take it all away. He wanted to find the one who did this and tear them apart. Anger rivaled his pain, deadened it somehow and allowed the pain to stay in check. 

As the house came into view again, Brenda turned, and grabbed his hand. "I'll go upstairs and get some things. Go find Mom. I want to leave."

"Okay." He followed her into the house. 

His sister walked directly upstairs to the second level leaving him to enter the living room. 

The first person he saw was Clifford. He was sitting beside his mother, Sally Waterhouse, and the minister at Whitfield Baptist, the Pastor John Price. 

It must have been a good three years since Colton had seen Clifford last. He was home about seven months ago but Clifford had been on the road. His job as a long distance trucker kept him away six days a week. The eight years Clifford had on Brenda had started to show. He'd put on some weight, and his hair had gotten greyer. The fine lines around his eyes were deeper. 

Clifford spotted Colton and got up to come over. Colton could tell by Clifford's expression, he hadn't missed him. The feeling was mutual. 

He came forward, hand extended.  

"Colton," he said, smile tight. "You just get here?" 

"Yeah," Colton replied, shaking Clifford's hand briefly. There was no use asking how he was. He'd just lost his son. There were several empty bottles of beer on the coffee table which meant he was well into making use of his crutch. He reeked of beer. 

"You seen Brenda?" he asked. 

"Yes," Colton nodded. "She's upstairs getting some things together. She's going to stay at Mom's tonight with me."

His face changed. "The hell she is."

Sally Waterhouse came trotting over now with the Pastor in tow. She was a plump woman in her mid sixties always bathed in cologne and heavily made up. Sally Waterhouse had never had any problem expressing exactly what she thought and Colton know she was about to do just that. 

"What’s this I hear now?" she demanded. She had the hint of a Southern tang, being a native of South Carolina. Her attention was centered on Colton. "Bolton," she announced, "Brenda belongs with her husband at this time."

"Ah, it's Colton," he reminded her. 

She turned to the Pastor. "John," Sally Waterhouse said to the tall, heavy set man in his fifties at her side, "this is Bolton West, Brenda's brother. You remember," She lowered her voice, "the one I was telling you about."

Colton sighed inwardly and took the hand the Pastor offered. "Colton," he said, "and yes, I'm the fag brother."

*_*_*_*

Christmas chez moi!

So if you were invited to my house for Christmas, you wouldn’t go away hungry. There is a tree, nicely decorated, and some lights outside on the porch, or and Santa is out there, lit up as well. I have a nice wreath on the door. Inside is my kitty, Oliver, also known as Ollie Bear. He’s a love nut, will kiss you to death, and he’s getting old now. Can’t stand the thought of being without him. He is my baby. I rescued him as a kitten. He was two days old, abandoned. I tried to save five of his siblings but only he survived. He is truly my baby. 

On a lighter note, for sure you’d have a present under the tree. There would be plenty of red wine and turkey, cranberry sauce, plum pudding and stuffing. Chocolate and nuts of course and all kinds of pies… not sure what kind yet. Not pumpkin this year… maybe cherry. The house is filled with music, a lot of classic rock. There is only so much I can take of Christmas music. 

You would be treated like a king…or ah…queen…and we’d laugh and watch movies. I’m a movie buff. I also love to walk in the snow and we usually have quite a bit of the white stuff. I do see friends over the holidays so chances are you’d meet some of them. One of my friends lives about two hours away. We’ve been friends since we were kids. Others live closer and will drop in. 

You may need to help me deliver little gifts to my elderly neighbors, Santa always brings them something. My employees need to be taken out as well, so you can join us at the hotel where I will spring for a buffet and we will exchange gifts. 

So it’s pretty quiet, just people around me and small gift exchanges. Lots of music, movies, turkey and good conversation…and of course red wine. Lots of red wine. 

That’s a D.J. Manly Christmas. No disco balls or dancing all night, just lots of love and smiles and good cheer. And I wish you that, my dear friends and readers, health, happiness and love…lots of love.

D.J Manly

Don’t forget, convince me that you’re my greatest fan and win a free copy of my December 22nd release at Amber…my cherished Christmas gift to you. 

xxxx

Thursday, 5 December 2013

AmberPax Holiday Giveaway Week #1 - Trace Edward Zaber

As you all know, Amber Quill Press is in the business of "words."  We love words, especially when they tell exciting and engaging stories, those that have the power to stir our soul and hit emotional targets while allowing us to escape into a world of the past, present, or future.  We love words that speak to our better natures, all the while causing us to ponder the existing human condition and inspire us in our own busy and complicated lives.  Therefore, it seems highly appropriate that we should reward someone who graciously shares their own words with us this holiday season.

For the next three weeks, we will be giving one lucky recipient, one who shares their words with us on this blog, an AmberPax Collection of their choice.  Simply make comments on any posting during the month of December, and you'll immediately be entered for a chance to win.  Each Wednesday, we'll draw a name from the pool of commenters from the previous week. Comment more often, and that's more chances to win! The dates are:

Wednesday, December 11 - For all comments made from December 1 through December 10
Wednesday, December 18 - For all comments made from December 11 through December 17
Wednesday, December 25 - For all comments made from December 18 through December 24

So share your words with us this December and have great fun in doing so.  And please know that the owners, staff, and authors at Amber Quill Press wish each and every one of you a joyous, safe, and healthy holiday season.

Happy reading!

Trace Edward Zaber
Co-Owner/Editorial Director/Creative Director
Amber Quill Press, LLC
The Gold Standard In Publishing!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Welcome to the party from KC Kendricks!

Welcome to December and our mini “office” party here on the AmberPax blog! I feel so very blessed to be among such a great group of writers, a few of which have become friends I will cherish for years to come. I’m not sure how many of them are bringing a holiday blog this December, but I look forward to reading the different perspectives on the season - who loves it, who hates it, and who’s cagey and sticks to straight promotion. 

December is a “launch” month for me. It’s a time of evaluating where my writing has taken me and for planning for the year ahead. It’s time to be realistic about what’s left undone, too. I don’t know about other writers, but I rarely complete every project started in any given calendar year. The ideas come faster than I can get them on the page. 

I have two projects near and dear to me that are front and center for 2014. The first is the next installment in the Sundown shapeshifter series, and the other is a new case for Ian Coulter, private investigator. I’m excited to be able shrug off deadlines and just have some fun with these characters. It will be interesting to see how the way they speak to me has grown. 

The New Year will come and I need to be ready. We no longer have to sharpen our quills to write. What we tend is so much more important. We’re finally recognizing that our very best writing asset is ourselves. This holiday season is for me to rest and recharge and enjoy family and friends without the stress of a deadline lurking. This is a time to get back to basics, which will ultimately make me a better-equipped writer. 

May you and yours have a happy and safe holiday season.

KC Kendricks

PS. You didn’t really think I’d skip out without a little promo, did you? 


Contemporary gay romance available at Amber Allure.

This title is also part of the Dream Man PAX, available only at Amber Allure.

Victor Carter knows his grandfather only from a handful of black and white photographs, so his surprise when the man’s will is read is genuine. What’s he going to do with seventy acres on the side of a Kentucky mountain? More importantly, how’s he going to survive living there for a year to satisfy the conditions of the will so he can sell the property? Even worse, it’s not like the hills of Kentucky are teeming with gay companionship. 

Boone Mosely is Kentucky born and bred with a proud family heritage he can trace back to his home state’s founding. Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Boone’s in his second term as sheriff of Four Points. He takes the job seriously and doesn’t suffer fools - or crime - in his town. 

When city slicker Victor Carter arrives on Shepherd Mountain, Boone knows he’s got a whole new brand of trouble to deal with. And this time, the badge isn’t going to help him at all.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Holiday Office Party

December is our month-long holiday office party here at Amber Pax Collections! What does that mean? That means posts all month from some of your favorite Amber Pax authors, as well as giveaways and holiday treats for some of our lucky readers.

A look at our schedule:

Sunday, 12/1 - KC Kendricks
Friday, 12/6 - DJ Manly
Monday, 12/9 - Clare London
Thursday, 12/12 - Marie Sexton
Friday, 12/13 - K-lee Klein
Sunday, 12/15 - Carolina Valdez
Monday, 12/16 - Vivien Dean
Wednesday, 12/18 - Heidi Champa
Thursday, 12/19 - Sean Michael
Friday, 12/20 - Adrianna Dane
Saturday, 12/21 - Deirdre O'Dare
Monday, 12/23 - AJ Llewellyn
Tuesday, 12/24 - Christiane France

So tune in tomorrow to see how KC kicks off our festivities!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

No Tell Motel Giveaway Winner

Thanks for such a great week here at the blog! Since it's Saturday, that means it's time to see who is the winner for the entire pax collection.

And the winner is...Jill Prand!

Expect an email from us soon!

Friday, 22 November 2013

I'm an Unabashed Vampire Girl by Vivien Dean

When it comes to paranormal creatures, I am a vampire girl all the way. Oh, sure, I like to read about shifters and the occasional zombie, but point me in the direction of a bloodsucking, morally ambiguous, could-be immortal, and I start salivating at the possibilities.

They don't even have to be romantic figures. I cut my teeth on Salem's Lot, and Brian Lumley's Necroscope series was my horror crack in college. It's the inherent sensuality they evoke that gets to me, even when they're monsters. Because what's more sensual than having someone's mouth on you, sucking out your very life?

I have my favorites. Gary Oldman's Dracula. Spike from Buffy. Mitchell from Being Human. Too many to list, really. They tend to be tortured types, too, flogging themselves for past sins almost as often as they end up making a poor choice that only warrants more self-flagellation. Or they go the other way, completely unrepentant and glorying in their lifestyle choices.

So when it came time for the no tell motel pax, I flashed on how unsafe motels would be if you were a vampire in need of sanctuary. Anyone could cross that threshold, both good and bad. That spawned the idea of Sutter being on the run, and what it would take for him to survive, and thus, Max, my ex-Marine who's now stuck in the backwater town he grew up in, was born. Letting their romance germinate from those beginnings was a real delight, because it had been too long since I'd written a vampire story of my own.

A lot of times, vampires are portrayed as naturally dominant, and while there are certainly those in Sutter's world, I wanted to write about something different. I went with the belief that a naturally submissive human wouldn't necessarily change his preferences as a vampire. Sutter gets off on making others happy, though his sire certainly crossed a line and ultimately drove him away as a result. When he meets Max, he's in a completely vulnerable position, which evokes every protective instinct Max possesses. The relationship that evolves becomes very much about what they can give the other, on every level. That, to me, is what romance is all about.

Who are your favorite vampires? I'm always looking for recommendations!

*_*_*_*

Threshold by Vivien Dean is now available at Amber Allure.

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!