Winter Blogfest: Charli Coty

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Toy Run, plus a backlist book of the winner’s choice (from either of my pen names).

Holiday Traditions

Hello and Happy Holidays! Thanks to everyone at Long and Short Reviews for having me!

Today I’m going to talk about a holiday tradition that’s near and dear to my heart: toy drives. For my whole adult life I’ve participated in holiday toy drives, whether they were through an office or a bike run, and have bought just about every kind of toy. When I was younger (and had a young child) I donated blocks and stuffed animals, and as I got older those gifts changed to basketballs, footballs, and board games. I’m sure many of you reading this have given toys too, whether directly to your local firehouse or children’s hospital, or maybe you dropped them into a donation box at Target.

And I’d like to thank you on behalf of all of the children who had a gift on Christmas morning because of you.

You see, when I was a child, my sister and I received donated toys on more than one Christmas. Those years were difficult in many ways, and the whole family felt the shame of having our Christmas gifts delivered by a charity truck. But through all that, I was grateful. Grateful that people I didn’t even know cared enough to make our holiday brighter. Later, I was grateful to be in a position to give that gift to someone else in need. I’ve worked hard through the years, and have always been proud to be able to put a board game in the barrel or give a fancy box set of books to a child in the hospital over the holidays.

I’d love to fill the comments on this post with links to your local toy drives or the toy list you’re planning on buying to donate this year. Let’s make sure every kid has a gift, no matter what holiday they celebrate! Even a $5 gift is better than none at all. I’ve had a difficult year, but plan to shop Cyber Monday for a few cool, geeky toys to make a child’s holiday special!

One random commenter on this post will get a copy of my biker holiday Romance, Toy Run, and a backlist book of their choice (either under my Charli Coty pen name, or Charley Descoteaux).

Thank you for reading and Happy Holidays!

Here’s a teaser from the opening of Toy Run, to get you in the mood!

It was a terrible idea, riding north. For the same five hundred miles I could be in Vegas or San Diego—but terrible ideas were sort of my specialty. Besides, if it all went to hell, I’d just keep moving. Another specialty.

I backed up to the curb, killed the engine, and sat leaning against my pack. Hours early, again. It’s not easy to arrive fashionably late when you have nowhere else to be. I flipped the helmet visor up, and glare from the fog and mist made me want to flip it back down. It was dark when I left Ashland two hundred and fifty miles ago. I missed full dark, but by then the only dark to be found was somewhere over the Pacific. As it was, I could almost see the reflection of the floodlight bouncing off my helmet. Being black didn’t help that thing. Being wet probably didn’t either, but that was what I got for riding into Oregon in December.

A growl in my stomach kicked the rest of me into gear. A moment later my two-ton helmet sat where my ass had been, and I headed toward the truck-stop diner, leathers creaking like my knees would be by the end of the day if it didn’t warm up. Birds know what they’re doing, flying south for the winter.

Every head turned when the bells hanging on the front door slapped against the glass. The smell of toast and coffee and the warm air were welcoming enough. They watched me every step of the way, the redheaded stepchild coming in after curfew. They were half right.

I nodded to the man sitting beside the only empty stool at the counter and shrugged my jacket off before easing onto it. The stool on the end—things were looking up already. He nodded back and extended his hand.

“Ed Gonzalez.”

We shook.

“Ian Bowen.”

I grabbed a menu from the holder in front of me, but my stomach had gone from rumbling to shivering. In the space of one handshake, eating became less important than getting out from under his gaze. It usually took a lot more than a pair of dark eyes for me to give up my full name, but those weren’t just any eyes. So brown they were almost black, and full of the promise of rough sex.

Or an ass kicking. Hard to tell. Knowing things like that was not a specialty of mine.

“You here for the run?”

“That’s right.” I crooked my thumb toward the parking lot and couldn’t help smiling. “One of my bags is full of toys.”

“You come in on that blue Shovel?”

“That’s right.” My smile and friendly voice stuck around with some effort. He’d been in a position to see me park her, but I could think of worse ways to spend breakfast than making conversation with Ed Gonzalez. “And you?”

“Green Knuck.”

He nodded toward the other end of the row of bikes parked outside the diner. A green bike. Ed Gonzalez must be younger than he looked, or maybe just not superstitious. Couldn’t pay me to sit on a green bike, let alone buy one. Granddad’s oldest brother and childhood idol had fought in World War II, and Granddad passed all his superstitions down to me.

The Knucklehead sported a two-tone olive-drab paint job and a pyramid of Nerf balls lashed to the rack behind a brown solo saddle seat that could’ve been the original. Late 1930s was my guess. A young gal with Heather on her name tag poured coffee and took my order. Ed didn’t turn away.

“You from around here?” I asked him. “I just got in and am going to need a friendly motel.”

He nodded thoughtfully. The noise level in the diner had been growing steadily higher as more bikes arrived. He bent his head toward me, and I had to lean against the counter to get my arms away from my body before I started to sweat.

Former physical therapist and reluctant loner Ian Bowen has spent the three years since his grandfather’s death searching for a man to inspire him to park his Harley—without much hope of finding him. Terrible ideas are one of Ian’s specialties so when he shows up for a Toy Run in Oregon and finds ice instead of rain, he’s not surprised. Ian meets Ed Gonzalez, another loner with a pile of toys lashed to his bike, and a few beers at the end-of-the-run party turn into an invitation to Ed’s for homebrew. Instead of a hot hookup, the unseasonable cold renders Ed immobile with pain. Before Ed can get to his meds, Ian massages Ed’s pain away, allowing him a restful night’s sleep and creating intimacy neither wants to lose. Ian thinks two men have to follow certain rules to be together, but Ed’s prepared to show him how wrong he is.

About the Author: Charli misspent a large chunk of her youth on the back of a Harley, meeting people and having adventures that sometimes pop up in her fiction. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. Charley has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

Charli Coty is a pseudonym of the author known as Charley Descoteaux.

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  1. Thank you so much for having me!

    This year I ended up unable to drive in to the drop-of spot, so I ordered toys and had Amazon deliver them! <3

    Happy Holidays, all!

  2. Give A Rose says:

    Sigh. I don’t believe we are going to be exchanging gifts this year. I just lost my mom and finances are extremely tight. My daughter knows this and so far she insists on not telling me what her wishes are. We’re lucky to have a roof over our heads and food in the pantry, though. To me, that’s more than enough as far as gifts for me. My older kids (from first husband) also received gifts donated to us and I’ve also donated gifts in the past.
    Happy Holidays to all of you! <3

  3. Condolences to Give a Rose, it always seems so much worse when we lose a loved one during this season. I alternate what and who I donate to, so this year it was a box for some deployed soldiers and some things for the LGBT Youth center. Happy holidays and thanks for the excerpt!

  4. nice excerpt

  5. Little Bear says:

    Happy Holidays 🙂 We have a wishes tree, run by a local children’s charity in our local shopping mall. You pick a wish, buy the gift requested (normally a simple toy, book, doll, etc) and they gift it to children in hospital or shelters, etc.

  6. Thank you all for commenting! tells me ELF is the winner~congratulations! Be sure to check your email! <3

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