Winter Blogfest: Thea Landen

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win one  ebook of Tangled In His Possession + 2 Thea Landen bookmarks (no shipping restrictions). 

Knitting and Crocheting Over the Holidays by Thea Landen

It’s that time of year again! Temperatures are dropping, the sun is barely making an appearance, and there may even be some snow and ice on the ground. While I do miss seeing the sun and I hate shoveling my driveway, part of me gets excited over colder weather because it means I can bring out all my handknit clothing and accessories! I first learned how to knit and crochet when I was in college, and I have drawers and closets full of cozy sweaters, socks, hats, and scarves. With the right gear, I suppose even the shoveling isn’t terrible.

Despite knitting and crocheting for many years, I’d never managed to work it into any of my books until recently. Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with a question authors are often asked, which is “are any of your characters secretly based on you?” While I may share some traits with a couple of my characters, I’ve never created one who is exactly like me, nor have I ever felt the need to write a story which incorporates that particular hobby of mine. Until, as I said, recently.

The basic plot of Tangled In His Possession is similar to a lot of popular TV movies: a high-powered sophisticated businesswoman has to leave the big city for Reasons and adapt to life in a small town, but it’s okay, because she’ll find love there when she least expects it. When outlining the book, I decided to have the main character Lucy take over her dead aunt’s yarn shop. (Complete with a cute guy running the occult shop next door, naturally. Oh, but he’s possessed by a demon. Oops.) While the story itself may not be about knitting/crocheting, I did put my knowledge to good use and added in some descriptions as a bonus for my fellow yarn lovers. For example, when Lucy is knitting the top of a sock while chatting with that cute guy next door, it’s clear her pattern starts with 1×1 ribbing and she’s using double-pointed needles.

It’s always the little details that make books come to life for readers, and I’m thrilled I could finally include this passion of mine in one of my stories. Regardless of whether or not it’s cold outside where you are, let the red-hot romance of Tangled In His Possession keep you warm this season!


When her great-aunt dies, leaving The Yarn Barn in need of new management, Lucy Hawkins jumps at the opportunity to quit her stressful sales job. She moves to the quaint tourist town of Willow Vale, ready for a fresh start when she takes over the business. While introducing herself to her new neighbors, she meets Zeke, the owner of the occult shop next door. Friendly yet reserved, Zeke piques her interest, but he turns down her suggestion of a date.

Late one night, a frightening incident causes Zeke to reveal why he doesn’t want to risk getting too close to Lucy: he is possessed by a demon, an evil spirit that killed his grandfather several years earlier. Though he has been able to prevent it from harming anyone else since, he agonizes over what could happen if he loses control. Despite his worries, Lucy persists, and ultimately persuades him to allow her to provide the companionship he’s been too afraid to seek out.

They embark on a romantic relationship, with Zeke becoming the doting, compassionate partner Lucy has always dreamed of. The demon within him, however, remains a lingering concern, especially when it comes to intimacy and his fear for her safety. After a traumatic outburst, he vows to rid the world of the malicious force, even if it costs him his life. Lucy accepts his choice, but there’s one thing she needs from him before he carries out his plan. Can she convince Zeke to share every part of himself with her, demons and all?


Thea Landen lives in New York with her husband and children. Though she’s dabbled in all romantic subgenres, she has a special love for sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure…anything that pushes the imagination beyond its usual limits. When she’s not writing, she’s either knitting or crocheting, playing video games, or pretending to enjoy cardio and squats.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Winter Blogfest: C.W. Allen

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win one ebook copy of The Secret Benefits of Invisbility.  

The Perks of Writing Holiday Stories by C.W. Allen

Christmas in my home means a lot of things. It means dusting off the decorations I put away in January, taking a moment to admire each one and perhaps reminisce about the person who made or gifted it before finding a place to display it for the season. It means digging out stained and splattered recipe cards, coating the kitchen with flour in pursuit of familiar flavors—gingerbread and spiced cranberry and peppermint. And the celebrations of the season wouldn’t be complete without pulling old friends off the bookshelf and getting reacquainted with Scrooge and Marley, Saint Nicholas, and of course those incorrigible Herdman children.

In short, holidays are about tradition. And that’s exactly why you should consider adding a holiday story to your writing lineup. Whether it’s Halloween or Hanukkah, Thanksgiving or Talk Like A Pirate Day, including holidays in your writing can earn your story a treasured place in your readers’ seasonal routines.

One of the most famous holiday stories is A Christmas Carol. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you are undoubtedly familiar with the miserly old grump’s supernatural stroll through his memories in search of a change of heart. The word “scrooge” doesn’t even belong solely to the character anymore, but to every penny-pinching misanthrope, just like every lip balm is called chapstick. It’s like the old saying goes: you either die a hero, or live long enough to become a generic noun.

You’d think a story with such universal appeal must have launched with a multi-bajillion dollar ad campaign and the backing of a powerful publishing tycoon, but no—after his usual publisher rejected it, Charles Dickens decided to self-publish the book. It was released just ten days before Christmas, and yet the initial print run sold out well before the holiday arrived. You don’t need any gatekeeper’s approval to send a great story out into the world. And a great holiday story will inspire its readers to come home to your words year after year.

Of course it may be a tad ambitious to aspire to A Christmas Carol’s level of readership and cultural impact. The other benefit of holiday stories takes just the opposite path, in fact—finding an unexplored niche. If the holidays that capture your heart are not of the over-commercialized variety, you may be able to remedy a serious lack of representation in the market. And by speaking to people who feel the same way, you can cultivate a loyal and enthusiastic readership. (Believe it or not, one of my favorite books includes a chapter about Arbor Day.) So if you want to add some literary traditions to your Ramadan, Holi, Purim, Winter Solstice, or Pi(e) Day celebrations and find your options lacking, maybe it’s time to write the stories you want to see in the world.

“Snowflakes the size of baseballs were falling outside, which was ironic, since baseball didn’t exist anymore.”

For Zed and Tuesday, adjusting to life in modern-meets-medieval Falinnheim means normal is relative. Lots of kids deal with moving, starting new schools, and doing chores. But normally, those schools aren’t in underground bunkers full of secret agents, and the chore list doesn’t involve herding dodos. The one thing that hasn’t changed: all the adults treat them like they’re invisible.

When a security breach interrupts a school field trip, the siblings find themselves locked out of the Resistance base. With the adults trapped inside, it’s up to Tuesday, Zed, and their friends to save the day. And for once, being ignored and underestimated is coming in handy. After all, who would suspect a bunch of kids are capable of taking down the intruders that captured their families, let alone the murderous dictator that put them into hiding in the first place?

Turns out invisibility might just have its benefits.


C.W. Allen is a Nebraskan by birth, a Texan by experience, a Hoosier by marriage, and a Utahn by geography. She knew she wanted to be a writer the moment she read The Westing Game at age twelve, but took a few detours along the way as a veterinary nurse, an appliance repair secretary, and a homeschool parent. She writes long stories for children and short stories for former children. When she’s not writing, she helps other writers hone their craft as the President-Elect of the League of Utah Writers.

Her debut novel Relatively Normal Secrets is the winner of the Gold Quill award, being named the best children’s book of the year by a Utah author, and was NetGalley’s #1 children’s audiobook of 2022. The Falinnheim Chronicles series continues with The Secret Benefits of Invisibility (Cinnabar Moth, 2022) and Tales of the Forgotten Founders (Cinnabar Moth, 2023). She also has shorter work published in numerous anthologies. Keep up with her latest projects at

Website | Blog | Twitter 

Buy the book at Amazon.

Winter Blogfest: Vicki-Ann Bush

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an eBook copy of Alex McKenna and the Geranium, and I’ll mail out a little witchy bag of swag. And a bonus surprise that will be in the envelope!

Happy Yule! By Vicki-Ann Bush 


Happy Yule!

Yule is soon approaching and during this time I find myself with one foot in the past. I remember my parents, grandparents, and all of my family and friends that are kept safe in my heart and alive in my memories. I’ve had a charmed life. Not because of money, or homes, or cars, or things…but because of people. Always knowing I’ve been loved and appreciated has been the true treasure in my life.

Over the years I’ve gone from a catholic Merry Christmas to a pagan Happy Yule. My family still believe in the church and Catholicism, but they’ve never tried to sway me. They understand who I am and what I believe to be my truth. To have that support has been my strength over the years. Loving someone not because of their blood connection but truly embracing who they are, is in my opinion, the true path to peace. Life is a bumpy road, and why would you make it more challenging for the ones you love?

My blog for December is simple. I wish for all of you this kind of life. Years filled with memories that make you smile and sometimes laugh out loud. Hugs that last a few seconds longer, a call when you need it the most, or someone who is content to just sit by your side. A life of moments to carry you through the hard times and reassure you that someone, somewhere, is always on your side.
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Yuletide, Merry Christmas, and a Blessed Kwanzaa!



The dead need him.

Seventeen-year-old Alex McKenna is a transgender boy who comes from a rich history of Strega witches. Possessing the ability to communicate with the dead, he uses his talents and understanding of what it means to be different to bridge the gap between the living and the beyond. With his girlfriend Margaret and his spirited great-grandmother by his side, Alex helps lost souls resolve their earthly connections and move on.

When a series of murders plagues his neighborhood, Alex discovers the gruesome truth behind a sixty-year span of deaths and the sinister being responsible.

Will Alex save the next victim and stop the murderer for good? Or will this be his final case?


Born Vicki Ann Guidice, on January 14th, 1962, her journey into the realm of the spiritual and supernatural was initiated at birth. Her early years were spent in Queens, New York known for having more people passed on than alive, as well as having several Gothic cemeteries within walking distance of its communities. At the age of 15, she moved to Los Angeles California taking her fertile imagination with her. After meeting her future husband, Ronald Bush, her new homeland became Las Vegas, Nevada.

As a mother of two, her first published book in 2008, Winslow Willow the Woodland Fairy, took her love of fantasy and spun it into a heartwarming children’s book. The progression to the young adult literary market took root in her novels that captured the haunting qualities of the Las Vegas desert surrounding her, but it was New York that called her home. Alex McKenna, the main character in the book series first published in 2019, is the embodiment of her Italian-American roots, memories of adolescent outsider status, and the strength it takes to live an authentic life.

Ms. Bush is a co-founder of Coffee House Tours, an events-based collaboration between local bookstores and coffee shops allowing authors to represent themselves and their works. Additionally, she is a frequent podcast literary guest and has a special relationship with The Center LGBTQIA+ Las Vegas where Alex McKenna has been an inspirational focus as a transgender Paranormal teen. Now starring in the short film Alex and Margret’s Beginning, inspired by the book series, Ms. Bush is an award winning short screenplay writer and Producer. Bringing her moving and unique storyline and character to a broader audience.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter 

Winter Blogfest: Susie Black

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an electronic format copy of Death by Sample Size.

Why Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas by Susie Black

​​What makes the holiday eason most special are the traditions we create and share; and in that way, make them uniquely our own. Even those of us who do not celebrate Christmas have still found ways to participate in the joy of the season. For us Jews, eating Chinese food on Christmas day has become an international tradition that started in New York in the 1930s. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Jews looking for a special way to celebrate a day off on December 25th in afriendly place with a welcoming atmosphere featuring exotic food they didn’t normally eat were hard-pressed to find any restaurants open except those whose proprietors did not celebrate Christmas either. In most neighborhoods, Chinese restaurants were the only ones open on Christmas day. And so, as many things in life come to be, out of necessity or by process of elimination, a delightful tradition was born.

My maternal grandparents were married on December 25th and every year celebrated their anniversary by following this tradition. They in turn, passed it down to my mother who continued it when she married and had children, and passed it down to us. I cannot recall any Jew I knew who did not go out for Chinese food on Christmas day.

Chinese food was the first foreign food I was introduced to as a small child. I spent the early years of my childhood in Linden, New Jersey a bedroom community southwest of Manhattan. One particularly cold and snowy Christmas day my father was under the weather, so rather than go out to eat in a Chinese restaurant like we normally would, my mother brought in takeout Chinese food instead. We ate Chinese food often throughout the year, and my mother frequented a neighborhood Chinese take-out. We got to know the owner, a kind and generous older Chinese man who always paid me special attention. That evening, I accompanied my mother to pick up dinner. When it was our turn to order, I told the owner I didn’t want to eat his food any longer because he put worms in it. He wasn’t offended, but he asked me to show him the worms. I pointed to some translucent squiggly-looking worms in the chow mein he was about to put into a container as part of our order. He asked my mother if I could come back to the kitchen with him. She said yes. We went into the kitchen and he sat me on a stool next to him in the preparation area. Heshowed me how he cut the onions and how he cooked them. When they were done, he explained they were not worms, but the same thin onion strips he just cut that when cooked, only looked like worms to me(I was about 5 years old). When I was still not completely convinced, he gave me one to taste, and then I was sold. He and I were BFF’s after that…I always got extra fortune cookies and almond cookies.

Since this holiday tradition was such an important part of my life, I was interested to learn more. If you are the curious sort like me, click the link and read a more in-depth history of the love affair we Jews have with Chinese food.

The good news is you don’t have to be Jewish to eat Chinese food on Christmas….but it helps.

However you celebrate the holiday, may your traditions bring you and yours the joy that comes with the sense of belonging that binds us humans together.


Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies’ apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way.


Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

Website |  Facebook | Twitter 

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Winter Blogfest: Darlene Deluca

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win one digital copy of the author’s Christmas novella Cookie Collision, and one digital copy of the author’s Christmas novel Christmas at Tall Pines

Darlene’s Sugar Cookies by Darlene Deluca

Christmas time is cookie time! I’m not a cook, and not really a baker, either. But I do enjoy making holiday iced sugar cookies. It’s the one thing I can always take to holiday gatherings and be relatively sure they’ll be a hit!

I start several weeks in advance because I need a lot of them, and they have to be made in three stages. Mix and refrigerate, cut and bake, then frost. But they can’t be frozen after they’re frosted. It’s a process!

When I get started, I take over the whole kitchen and keep everyone else out. No breathing in the kitchen when I’m working on cookies! 🙂  Some years I stick with traditional red, white and green. Sometimes I add blue or pink if those colors are trending as Christmas colors. Occasionally, I add some dark chocolate. This year, I’ll probably use more white because my daughter is expecting and trying to stay away from food colorings.

I make the cookies for lots of special events, including Super Bowls (Kansas City Chiefs), and other holidays. As I’m in the process this year, I’ll also whip up a few sea creatures, probably whales, for a baby shower. What’s fun is that I can find a cookie cutter for just about any occasion and can always make the perfect color to match!

Hope you get all your favorite cookies and goodies this holiday season!

Here’s my recipe:

Darlene’s Sugar Cookies

Mix dry ingredients separately:

3 1/2 cups Flour

2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1 tsp Baking Soda


In mixing bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups Sugar

Two sticks Butter, melted (1 cup)

1 tsp Vanilla

Two eggs


Add dry ingredients to mixture until well blended.

Chill at least one hour. (I usually refrigerate overnight then set the dough out for about an hour before working with it.)

To bake:

Preheat Oven to 375

Roll dough to 1/8” – 1/4” thickness. Cut into desired shapes.

Bake 5 to 7 minutes depending on your oven and how soft or crunchy you like your cookies.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies.


Melanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting.

But a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never quite gotten over.

Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for.

Instead, he’s stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how much he’s missed her.

As their past and present collide, can an old flame ignite some Christmas magic?


Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction that explores relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.

Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page.

The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Winter Blogfest: Tom Riley

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Dark Heat.” There are two prizes total, and each one will be given out to an entrant whose comment the authors feel best express the purpose and direction of the Sarah and JanetN books. 

ChatGPT-4 Turbo by Tom Riley

This year we got a big Christmas present in the form of the hot new AI, ChatGPT-4 Turbo. There is every reason to believe that AIs have already passed a social tipping point and major changes to society are now baked in.  

In our stories, strong AIs (technically AGI, Artificial General Intelligence), like JanetN, are well established but still expensive.  They are teamed with a responsible human being, Sarah.  They can appear on any screen but do not have robot bodies, as this would have too high a carbon footprint.

There are people who think they deserve to live and not be turned off on human whims.  There are also people who think they should all be killed off the instant they have lost their usefulness.  This conflict drives a lot of the drama in our stories.

Working in a near future where climate change has hit and hit hard, are Sarah and JanetM, a human/AI research team.

Their boring work for small businesses is disrupted when a friend/ex-lover vanishes; he was always a shady character. A major climate disruption in Southeast Asia has put the world into full food insecurity. There is great social distress over how much of America’s bounty should be committed. A black-market gang has hijacked a grain shipment intended for the devastated area. This action could endanger thousands of faraway people.

Our team thinks this gang is responsible for the disappearance of their friend too. The friend’s family offer to pay our team’s fee even if it is only to give the body a proper burial. The hunt is on.


Tom Riley retired from NASA a few years ago and continued coaching young people in STEM. It soon became clear that we owe our young people a better vision of their future in facing our climate crisis. This led to this series of now 3 books that take on that responsibility.

Buy the book at Amazon

Winter Blogfest: Becky Flade

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the author’s latest release, the romantic thriller Beautiful Dangerous


Butter Cake and Fudge by Becky Flade 

I am a very good baker. Not a bad cook, don’t get me wrong, but I slay at baking. Every year, I bake throughout the holiday season. Friends and family alike look forward to receiving my baked treats. And debate on what is better: My Butter Cake or My Fudge.

Everyone knows what fudge is, but not until two years ago, did I learn butter cake, as I know it and make it, is regional to northeast Philadelphia.

What makes the Philly butter cake distinctive is the bottom cakey layer and the top gooey layer. Oh yeah, I said GOOEY. My butter cake is award winning – sure it was the office Christmas party bakeoff but it took first place, so it counts.

Becky’s Butter Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 13×9 baking pan with butter (I often use a disposable tin with lid for easy gifting)

Bottom layer:

1 box of yellow cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines Butter Golden)

1 stick (or 8 oz) softened, salted butter

1 large egg (room temperature)

1) In a large bowl, combine and mix the above until it is consistency of dough.
2) Press evenly into the prepared pan.

Top layer:

1 package softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 stick (or 8 oz) softened, salted butter

2 large eggs (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 16-oz box of confectioner’s sugar

1) In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
2) Add butter, eggs, and vanilla, beat until smooth.
3) Slowly beat in the sugar until smooth and thick.
4) Pour evenly over the first layer.
5) Bake for 35-40 minutes.

The toothpick test DOES NOT WORK. This cake is done when the corners are golden and crusty; the center should be jiggly. Cool completely in the tin and serve from same.

It can be halved to make two 8×8 square tins. I recommend baking them both at the same time on the same shelf and checking it 5-10 minutes sooner.

If you’d like to compare and contrast my 2 most popular holiday bakes – here’s the fudge recipe:

Becky’s Fudge

Line a 9×9 pan, tin, etc., with parchment paper (I use a glass casserole dish)

1 14-oz can sweetened, condensed milk

18 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Dash of salt

1½ tsp vanilla extract

1) In a medium saucepan, over low heat, stir the milk, chocolate chips, and salt until fully melted and smooth.
2) Add vanilla and stir until it begins pulling away from the sides.
3) Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Cool completely, remove from pan, and cut into squares.

The trick is to stir the chocolate constantly. Never let it sit. It will burn.

I’ve mixed this up with peanut butter chips and mint chips in the past (1 part flavored to 2 parts chocolate). You can also add toppings, like caramel sauce drizzle or crushed candy canes. The sky is the limit. Obviously, a lot of people add nuts. I like to blitz Werther hard candies in my food processor and sprinkle them over the top before completely cooled. Yum.

Store both the cake and the fudge in air-tight containers. Christmas themed tins are an excellent option for gifting. But a plain tin with a pretty ribbon & bow are just as effective. And doesn’t require washing when the goodies are gone.

If you’re ever in the market for a gingerbread cookie recipe which doesn’t suck, hit me up. I’ve got one. And my shortbread biscuits are pure heaven.

What’s your favorite holiday goodie? Comment below for a chance to win my latest book.

If you try one of, or both of, the recipes above, please send me an email or find me on FB, Twitter, etc., and let me know what you think.

Happy Holidays!


It’s exquisite torture watching you. For your sake, I hope you meet my expectations… Public Defender Hannah Patel is being stalked by a man obsessed with her. Detective Doyle Murphy hopes to redeem himself by protecting Hannah, but neither expect their forced closeness to create genuine feelings. Their burgeoning romance pushes her stalker over the edge. Will love or madness win?


A city girl, born and bred, Becky tends to set her stories in and around southeast Pennsylvania, or at least has a character or two from the area. She wrote her first book in kindergarten and even then, her style leaned toward suspense. In addition to being a mother and grandmother, she works as a legal professional when she’s not writing, reading, or dancing. And Becky’s proud to tell people she’s making her own dreams come true…one happily ever after at a time.

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Winter Blogfest: Katie Groom

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Gibbous Moon by Katie Groom. 

Adjusting to Being Alone During the Holidays by Katie Groom

It can be very tough to be alone during the holiday season. When every ad is centered on family (not to mention that every book and movie set during these times seems to be focused on finding love or reconnecting with family or both).

Being that I am single and live nearly 1000 miles from my family, I was very worried about how I would handle my first holiday season alone. I had always been close with my family and we had plenty of traditions. And even though I was planning a trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was still going to leave those major days vacant of plans and full of longing for my family.

Leading up to the first major US holiday of the season, I had found myself wondering if I would be longing for the embarrassing Thanksgiving tradition of my mother going around the table and forcing each of us to declare at least one thing that we are thankful for that year. The aim was always for one of us to make her cry with what we said it was never difficult; our mom has always been emotional, so it would have just taken one of us saying that we were thankful for our family.

What I decided to do for that first Thanksgiving alone was start my own tradition. I decided that I wasnt going to worry about the big meal, but rather, I was going to do something outside of the home. There was a Van Gogh immersive exhibit that was open. Seeing as I was already a fan of Van Goghs work, I decided to partake in that, and it was a wonderful experience! I was actually grateful to have the day off the job I had at the time was actually the first for me that allowed me to have holidays free. It was the first time that I was actually doing something for me.

From that experience, I decided that, whenever possible, I would take these important days days that it would be difficult to be alone and do something that brought me joy. Sometimes its been activities such as seeing a movie or cooking my favorite meal or reading a holiday themed book. Other times its been serving others a hot meal or spending the entire holiday season buying and wrapping gifts for children that would otherwise not receive them. Other times it was something else entirely.

On one hand, Ive started to treat these days just like they were any other days of the year, but, in another way, Ive chosen to create my own traditions. And, if youre someone that is dreading being alone on the holidays, I recommend that you, too, create some sort of new tradition for yourself, if you can.

Werewolf and professor of literature Hugh spent nearly 200 years to find his soulmate, Zoie, but others betrayed him, working with rivals to take her away in only an instant. Revenge was swift and unsatisfying. More people need to pay for what was stolen from Hugh.

Zoie’s death had been orchestrated by powerful beings in the supernatural world. Exacting revenge will require precision and planning.

Biding his time before acting, Hugh reverts to the patterns that finding true love had disrupted. Walking through life in a fog, he does his best to appear as if he is moving forward, though nothing feels the same.

As Hugh tries to start the next chapter in his life with Rosalie, he is haunted by the memory of Zoie. The literature professor cringes every time he’s reminded that Rosalie doesn’t like to read, but he tells himself that opposites should attract. That Rosalie can patch the hole left in his heart when Zoie died. His revenge will take time, and wallowing in grief won’t help.

Just as Hugh is still focused on revenge, his enemies are still plotting to harm Hugh further. It’s dangerous to oppose a bereaved werewolf, but even werewolves can be hurt.

Katie Groom grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from PITT and her master’s in Employment and Labor Relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 2016, she decided to move to Alabama in order to avoid as much snow as possible (and to advance her career in Human Resources).

When she isn’t working, Katie enjoys reading, writing, jokingly critiquing movies and TV, and campaigning that the plural of moose should be meese. She also loves to take in live music (especially Hanson) and traveling, with the goal of reaching each of the continents. Katie’s favorite pastime, however, is spending time with her beloved Shih tzu, Delta.


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Winter Blogfest: Rachael Heinan and Kimberly Metcalf

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a free eBook of our debut novel Yours, Always.


A Chill Is in the Air by Rachael Heinan and Kimberly Metcalf


I love the theme of hot and sultry summer nights and in romance novels there are so many steamy places to go, especially when the least amount of clothes can be worn and you’re still decent. Or not decent. Let’s say semi-decent.

However, I am a huge fan of Regency Romances.

The longing, the wanting, being covered from head to toe. The flash of an ankle can causeheart palpitations. The winter scene and winter settings feel to me a lot like a Regency Romance. You’re bundled up, nary an inch of skin is showing, so when a glove is removed or a sweater comes off the sweet longing, reminiscent of my beloved Regency’s, comes to mind. There’s so much that can be done when you have cold weather and afireside when all you want to do is cozy up under a blanket and get warm in any way possible, and possibly fall in love.

My favorite Regency winter themed book is Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypass, a must read.

Kim and I are currently writing book number two in our Amber Falls series. It’s a contemporary romance and the setting is winter. Our book is after Christmas, but boy do I love a good Christmas romance novel. There’s something about wanting to be with the ones you love this time of year more than any time of year that makes it the perfect time and place to fall in love.

There’s a certain joy that comes with Christmas. The feeling of goodwill, the sense of togetherness and wanting to share your joyful spirit with others. Wanting to share pretty much everything: your thoughts, your feelingsyour gift list. Wanting to be nice but secretly being just a little bit naughty.

The first book in the Amber Falls series, Yours, Always, takes place just as the weather is starting to turn cold. There might be a few warmer fall days, but the chill is in the air. And when the chill is in the air the need to heat things up intensifies, and that can only mean good things in a romance novel.


An action movie star needs a small-town love to remind him how to live life, off script.

Greyson Atwood, Hollywood movie star, and his best friend Prudence Hardwick have been dancing around their feelings for each other since high school.

Fresh off a Spirit Award win for Best Actor, and despite the awards buzz in the air, Greyson finds himself burned-out on the Hollywood vibe. He knows his hometown of Amber Falls, Massachusetts is the best place to rest and recover, and it doesn’t help that his pent-up feelings for Prudence have simmered to the surface one too many times to ignore anymore.

Greyson decides he has no choice but to go to Prudence. As the town prepares for the annual Fall Festival, Greyson and Prudence finally have the time to navigate their deep bond of friendship that goes back to their childhood and find out if that bond is enough to build the rest of their lives on, together.


Rachael Heinan‘s love of books started at a young age. Her love of romance novels started in university when she couldn’t stand to read another textbook and picked up her first pure romance.

Rachael co-authors with Kimberly Metcalf. They met in the corporate world and their friendship flowed seamlessly into the real world.

Rachael lives in Minnesota, USA with her husband, daughter and 4 cats.

Kimberly Metcalf

Kimberly is an avid reader who managed to convince her best friend they could put their stories on paper. She is so excited to share them with you.

Based in North Dakota, USA, when not writing she can be found spending time with her family, cooking, or curled up in her favorite armchair with a book.

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Winter Blogfest: Kate Hill

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free download of Sofia’s Silver Bullet (Silver Hearts 2).

Watching Holiday Horror by Kate Hill

Delicious meals, decorations, music, family gatherings. Most people have holiday traditions they look forward to. For me, December is the time to indulge in Christmas horror movies. I am a huge fan of horror, and I anticipate watching winter-themed holiday movies every year. When I think of December, I imagine dark nights of snuggling by the warmth of the wood stove while strange, scary, and sometimes funny holiday movies flash across my TV screen.

I definitely have favorites that have become my staple holiday movies, but every year I also look forward to watching a few new ones.

For me, it wouldn’t be the holidays without seeing A Christmas Horror Story, Stalled, and Christmas with Cookie. A more recent favorite I’ve added to my holiday watch list is Slay Belles. I also don’t let the holiday season go by without watching the Tales from the Crypt episode And All Through the House.

As you can see, I especially enjoy indie movies and horror comedy.

If you’re also a fan of holiday horror, or if you’d like to try some holiday horror movies, I’d recommend the following ones. They’ve brought me many scares or laughs, and sometimes both.

A Cadaver Christmas – A janitor and a group of oddballs battle zombies (cadavers!) on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas Horror Story – This horror anthology includes individual scary stories that focus on citizens of the same town. Ultimately, their stories relate.

Sint (AKA Saint) – This unsettling holiday horror movie focuses on a terrifying Christmas legend.

Stalled – In this horror comedy, a janitor trapped in a woman’s rest room and an office worker struggle to survive a zombie attack during a Christmas party.

Are you also a fan of holiday horror? If so, I’d love to hear about some of your favorites so I can add them to my watch list.


Stalker – I’m a rogue wolf. No club. No gang. No pack. I’m free, and that’s how I like it. Roaming the streets in a Santa suit to antagonize demons into a fight, I meet her—the Wild witch who changes my life. I want Sam the moment I see her, but can a lone wolf fall in love at first sight?

Sam – I’m a Wild. That means I have warrior witch blood in my veins. I messed up, though, and someone I care about got hurt. To fix the situation, I’m in what’s left of Boston looking for demons so I can test a new spell. I’m not expecting a gorgeous silver wolf to protect me, and I’m not trying to fall in love, but one look at Stalker, and I know we were born for each other.

Note: Sam’s Silver Wolf is a very short age gap paranormal insta-love story with a little plot, a lot of heat, and a HEA.


Kate Hill is a vegetarian New Englander who loves writing romantic fantasies. When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out, watching horror movies, and researching vampires and Viking history. She runs the Compelling Beasts Blog that is dedicated to antagonists, antiheroes, and paranormal creatures. Kate also writes as Saloni Quinby.

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