Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 2015

SBR Is Back Up and Running…

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Folks, the WordPress issues have been resolved, and Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always) is back up and running. And I will have a review this Thursday, which not-so-coincidentally is New Year’s Eve…

As this post says, the main difference for anyone following along with SBR is that our domain name has slightly changed. It’s now shinybookreviews (with an -s ending) dot com. But we’re not changing our name; this was done to fix the problems we were having, and for no other reason whatsoever.

Anyway, see you all on Thursday over at SBR!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 28, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Writing Tip of the Year: Brainstorming #amwriting #ASMSG #IARTG

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Mrs. N. is a writer, editor, book promoter, book reviewer, and probably more things that I’m forgetting right now — anyway, she has come up with a very intriguing way to get past writer’s block. Take a look at this right away if you run into any trouble with your current work-in-progress, as it may help you. And keep an eye on her blog, too — lots of interesting stuff going on over there.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 28, 2015 at 8:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on the Meaning of the Term “Mixed Marriage”

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Folks, it’s December 27, 2015. And I was thinking this morning about the changing definition of the term “mixed marriage.”

We rarely hear the term “mixed marriage” these days, but when we do, it usually refers to a marriage between two people of different races. For example, a black man marries a white woman, maybe…or an Asian woman marries a Hispanic man. So if you use the term “mixed marriage,” it’s usually seen to mean a marriage between people of two different races.

Now, does it matter much that one person is one color and the other is a different one, if the love is there? No, it does not. But there are still cultural differences, so the term “mixed marriage” seems to apply even if the awareness of the term and the meaning behind it seems to be changing.

That said, when my grandmother was a girl — in the 1920s and early 1930s — the term “mixed marriage” meant something entirely different. Then, it meant “a marriage between two people of different religions.” She entered into a marriage with my grandfather despite the fact she was Irish Catholic and he was German Protestant — and while in today’s terms no one would bat an eye, back then, that was not “the done thing.” (It might not have been scandalous, but it wasn’t exactly easy, either.)

Unfortunately, we seem to be returning to this earlier definition to a degree. Now, if a Muslim lady marries a Christian man in the United States, that term is getting trotted back out. And the feelings that term engenders of fear, disbelief, anger, worry, misunderstanding and more are back with a vengeance…mostly because the dominant culture of the United States doesn’t seem to know what to do with people raised in a different culture — and religion — entirely.

I don’t know why this is, to be honest. I do know that this isn’t the first time the United States has dealt with such an issue — and I know that because of my own, personal history.

It took years for my grandmother’s marriage to be first tolerated, then accepted, and then finally — in her seventies and eighties, after my grandfather passed away — seen as “what’s the big deal?”

We are starting to see that now, in mixed-race marriages. All sorts of biracial children are coming into their own — President Barack Obama is far from the only one. No one bats an eye at them, and no one should.

I hope that in time, we will see more tolerance and respect for people of all faiths, all cultures, all ethnicities, all skin colors, and all gender expressions.

Love is love. And we need to start respecting that, wherever we may find it.

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 27, 2015 at 5:29 am

Buddha’s Advice for the Grieving (An Apocryphal Story)

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Folks, it’s that time of year again. It’s the holiday season, and as I’ve written before, here and here, it’s the time of the year when grieving people feel the most alone and misunderstood.

We feel isolated, you see. And that sense of isolation gets worse when you hear all the festive music, see all the twinkling holiday lights…so many people are bustling around buying gifts, you’d think that was the only reason anyone ever had to celebrate Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, or any other celebration save Festivus.

For some reason tonight, I was thinking about a story my late husband Michael told me about Gautama Buddha. (Michael was a Zen Buddhist.) This is in my best paraphrase, and does not come from a holy text — but I hope it will prove enlightening despite its apocryphal nature.

A distraught woman came to the Buddha and said, “I feel terrible. I grieve so much — surely there is some place on this Earth where people don’t hurt like this? Teach me, Buddha.”

And the Buddha is said to have told her, “I cannot give you this answer. But if you go around the world, ask people about grief. Then come back and let me know; I want the answer, too.”

So the woman went around the world and asked if anyone had the answers.

What she found is that everyone grieved something. Whether it was the loss of a loved one, the loss of a beloved pet, the loss of opportunities, even the loss of jobs, everyone grieved about something.

So the woman went back to the Buddha and said, “I did not find anyone who does not grieve, Buddha. Now what?”

And the Buddha gently told her, “Daughter, that is your answer.”

You see, if we all realized that we all grieve, there would be more understanding in this world. And understanding is the key to peace, if not necessarily the key to happiness itself…and it is understanding, along with the love of friends and family, that can help you when you feel lost and alone due to grief.

That does not take the grief away, mind. Nothing can.

But if you can talk about it, if you can accept it, that is the first step toward peace during this fractious, difficult, and often frustrating holiday season.

So please, do what you can to talk with your family members this holiday season, even the difficult ones who suffer from grief, anxiety, frustration, angst…try to show them kindness, love, and support.

That, to my mind, is the best gift you can possibly give during this holiday season.

My Latest Guest Blog (About Editing “A Little Elfy in Big Trouble”) Is Up at Murder By Four

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I’m happy to report that my latest guest blog, this one about editing A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE twelve years after I first wrote it, is up at the prestigious writing website Murder by Four.

Now, you might be asking yourselves, why have I been doing so many guest blogs? (Much less why I have had a number of guest bloggers at the Elfyverse.)

There is, of course, a reason for that.

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A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE has been out exactly one month. And between that and the two stories I have in the EXQUISITE CHRISTMAS anthology, I wanted to make sure anyone who had any interest in my writing was aware of these things.

(As for an answer to the second question: reciprocating with my fellow authors in the EXQUISITE CHRISTMAS anthology just seemed fair…besides, they’re all fine writers and I thought at least a few of you would enjoy hearing about them and their stories.)

Anyway, I’ve tried to write a wide variety of things. Some have been about the nature of romance, while some have been about editing.

Why did I write two blogs about editing? Well, I found editing A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE to be a major challenge, something completely unlike anything else I’ve done to date. And I figured that two places would appreciate hearing about this — my friend Chris Nuttall’s blog, and the prestigious writing website Murder by Four.

Fortunately for me, both places appreciated me talking about editing. Chris ran the blog first — bless him forever! — and now, Murder by Four has decided to run the editing blog as well.

Here’s a bit from the guest blog:

“So, Barb, what’s the difference between a full-on edit and a rewrite? Especially since you’re talking about adding things or rewriting them?”

A full-on edit is meant to help you, as a writer, figure out what else needs to be added to complete your novel and make it the best novel you are capable of writing. It is not a rewrite, because those usually mean you’re starting from scratch, and you might use some of what you had before – or you might not.

It’s a matter of emphasis, mostly. Analytical skills, perhaps. And certainly a matter of thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and sticktuitiveness…because when you edit for yourself, you have to believe you can see it as someone else does.

Anyway, I do hope you will enjoy reading this guest blog as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 21, 2015 at 6:20 am

Sunday Special: New Guest Blog Is Up for Author Gemma Juliana…

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Folks, it’s Sunday. And as it’s the Sunday before Christmas — a holiday nearly everyone in the Western Hemisphere observes, whether in its breach or in its keeping — I have an extra-special treat for you.

EQ2015Anthology Cover.1485x2100Author Gemma Juliana and I got to know each other due to our participation in the Exquisite Christmas anthology. I have two stories there, both featuring shapeshifter (and woman of size) Marja and her lover, Tomas, a telepathic mountain Troll. But Gemma has me beat — she has three stories in the anthology!

(And all of them are great reads, too. You really must go and see.)

Anyway, I enjoyed chatting with Gemma so much via e-mail, she was the very first person I asked for a guest blog. And while her holiday schedule was full, she said I could guest for her — while she’ll guest for me after the New Year. (I can’t wait!)

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medMy guest blog for Gemma discusses the differences between writing romance for teens/young adults and more mature adults, and I used my characters Bruno and Sarah as foils for Marja and Tomas. This is not the same blog you have already seen, either; I wrote a few iterations on this topic, and I actually wrote this one for Gemma first.

Anyway, here’s a wee bit from this guest blog:

…about the only thing Marja and Tomas have in common with my young Elfy protagonist Bruno and his mostly human teenage girlfriend, Sarah, is that despite the somewhat exotic subject matter, their romances feel genuine. We can empathize with them, because they have quirks and flaws, just as we all do.

Now, when you’re talking about teenagers and their first forays into romance, there obviously are some differences from writing about two settled adults such as Marja and Tomas. Bruno and Sarah are experiencing everything for the very first time – the first time they hold hands, the first time they kiss, is special. They don’t know what they’re doing, but they know they want to be doing it…and they know they’re going to do it “come the seventeen Hells or water over the levees,” as Bruno would say.

Then I used a few examples, one from A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, and one from the second of my two stories in Exquisite Christmas, “To Hunt the Hunter.”

So please, do go take a look at this guest blog — then, if you would be so kind, check out the sample chapters of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE if you haven’t yet read them. They may just intrigue you…or at least make you laugh.

And isn’t having a good laugh important at this time of year?

Check out #FSFNet’s Blockbuster End of the Year Sale!

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Folks, please bookmark this page from now until December 31, 2015.

Why? Well, the Fantasy and Science Fiction Network — a group I’m proud to be a member of — has come together in order to offer a number of books for ninety-nine cents or less. All of these books will be on sale until the end of the year, too…so if you’ve been waiting for prices to come down in order to pick up a new book, now’s your chance.

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Here are the five books/stories I contributed to this sale:

AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, book 1 of the Elfy duology

To Survive the Maelstrom,” a novella about Space Marine Peter Welmsley.

Columba and the Cat” (my late husband’s story, which I edited and finished), a romantic fantasy novella.

and both extant novellas of Atlantean Union officer Joey T.Z. Maverick, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station.”

All are ninety-nine cents. And the latter four are all available on Kindle Unlimited, so if you are subscribed to that, you can read them for free right now.

There are many great authors in Fantasy and Science Fiction Network, mind; we all write books that are appropriate for ages thirteen on up, and keep to a PG-13 rating or less.

So do, please, take a note of this sale…and let me know what you think of it!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 19, 2015 at 11:18 pm

Friday Fun: Author Dee Ann Palmer Visits the Elfyverse!

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Folks, it is my pleasure to welcome author Dee Ann Palmer to the Elfyverse. She has two short stories in the Exquisite Christmas anthology, one being “Snowfall,” the other being “A Night to Remember.” Both are fun and heartwarming short stories that left me with a smile on my face…and maybe if I were a better singer, I might’ve even had a song in my heart, too.

Note that Dee Ann featured my guest blog earlier this week at both her website and her blog, something I truly appreciated.

So, take it away, Dee Ann!

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THE MOUNTAINS, A BLIZZARD, AND A SKI RESORT FOR EXQUISITE CHRISTMAS

Thirteen years ago, I completed my first romance novel in a writer’s workshop in the California mountains. Later, as a Public Health Nurse, I visited pregnant and parenting teens in those same mountains, becoming aware of how eagerly young men awaited the first snowfall because it meant they would have jobs. I’ve also been an avid follower of the Winter Olympics, and, trained in emergency medicine, interested in ski patrollers.

With those experiences in mind, it’s no wonder I selected the winter settings I did for my romances— “A Night to Remember” and “Snowfall.”

Here’s the opening to “A Night to Remember:”

It was the worst Christmas Eve Marlee had ever lived through. Providing she did live through it, she thought. People who longed for a white Christmas obviously didn’t expect it to come with a power outage and a blizzard like she was creeping along in in her old Nissan.

Squinting to see, she switched the heat to the front and rear windshields. If she didn’t reach her house soon, the wipers wouldn’t be able to cut through the ice forming there. The snow had thickened and the temperature had dropped in the last thirty minutes.

“You had to have a tree. Going out in a blizzard to get that puny thing in the backseat masquerading as a Christmas tree was moronic,” she scolded herself…

From “Snowfall:”

 As a senior ski patroller, Riley’s job is to check the safety of the ski runs.

Now, from her spot on the lift, a flash of red from the corner of her vision drew her gaze upward. A man in ski clothes and helmet stood at the top of the closed double black diamond run named Satan’s Domain, poised as if waiting for a starter to yell “Go!” He mimicked breaking through a gate, pushed hard with his poles, and, knees bent, leaned in to set a blistering competitor’s pace down the fall line.

“Hey, you!” Riley screamed, waving a pole as her anger flared.

Whoever he was, he had no right to be there. He must’ve hopped on the lift while she was handling heat and coffee. He was trespassing, but the resort would be liable if he was injured. She clicked on her radio and called down to security to see if he’d arrived at the bottom in one piece. No answer.

The skier seemed to know what he was doing, but she had to be sure he wasn’t hurt. That extremely difficult piste, or run, hadn’t been groomed…

The Exquisite Christmas e-book is now available at:

Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018F4ACSC

Barnes & Noble — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/exquisite-christmas-victoria-adams/1123051071

Kobo — https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/exquisite-christmas

and coming soon to  iBooks and other retailers.

The paperback is available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Exquisite-Christmas-Romance-Authors-Holiday/dp/1519495358/

About the Author

In every age, the heart loves, and Dee Ann Palmer’s twenty-seven published romances over the past years have reflected those eras in contemporary, historic and fantasy tales. Palmer is a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America’s PAN group. She’s married to her college sweetheart, and they live in beautiful southern California in easy reach of mountains, desert and beaches.

http://deeannpalmer.com

http://deeannpalmer.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeeAnnPalmer

http://www.twitter.com/RunnerDeeAnn

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Thank you again, Dee Ann! Please make sure to follow her on Twitter, and keep an eye on what she’s doing…she’s a fine writer, and always tells a compelling story.

Please Welcome Author Victoria Adams to the Elfyverse!

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Folks, today is the second in what I hope will be a three-day extravaganza of blog exchanges. Author Victoria Adams is visiting the Elfyverse, while I am visiting her blog to discuss my two stories in the Exquisite Christmas anthology, those being “Marja’s Victory” and “To Hunt the Hunter.”

Why are Victoria and I doing a blog exchange? Well, she and I got to know each other because of the Exquisite Christmas anthology. She has a great story to lead off the anthology, one featuring a belly dancer, called “Christmas Knight.” And I hoped she’d not mind telling you more about this story, plus giving an excerpt to boot — and fortunately for me, she agreed.

So, take it away, Victoria!

Hi, I’m Victoria Adams and I’m excited to be here with the newly released anthology of Christmas stories — Exquisite Christmas.

In my story, “Christmas Knight,” Tamara is a belly dancer who is performing on a cruise ship.

Why did I pick a belly dancer? Because I’m a belly dancer. I’ve taken dance since I was in grade 3, but it was ballet way back then. After university, I taught dance in a Performing Arts school for many, many, MANY years.

A friend of mine visited Egypt and fell in love with Egypt and belly dance. She trained, studied and performed and eventually began to teach. I took classes and fell in love with the dance.

belly dancer

The above picture is not me. Belly dance doesn’t care how tall, small, skinny, not-skinny, young or old you are. You don’t have to leap through the air or do full splits on the ground. Yes, you do get to shake your butt – that’s called a shimmy.

Here’s a YouTube link on how to Shimmy – https://youtu.be/cZP0wxQJIfc

Every May, I and thousands of other belly dancers around the world participate in Shimmy Mob. The reason – to raise money for women and children’s shelters. It’s a fun day.

You don’t have to be a belly dancer to join in the day – here’s is the link if you want to check it out – http://www.shimmymob.com/

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An excerpt from the short story “Christmas Knight:”

Her body trembled. Tears tumbled from her eyes. Tamara plopped on the bench, lifted the handkerchief to her face and blew. “Oh!” She turned. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to use it. I’ll…get it cleaned.”

His mouth broke into a wide grin. His eyes sparkled like the stars above her. Tamara forgot her sadness and revelled in the joy of the moment.

“Question? Your hair was long and black this evening.” He slid his hand over her short, red hair.

She shrugged. “Wig.”

He lowered his gaze. “I was mesmerized by your dancing. The sensual way you moved. I felt it here.” He lifted his head and rested his hand on his chest. “It felt like you were dancing just for me.”

Tamara chuckled. “I almost was. The ship is only about a quarter full.” She bit her bottom lip. “I saw you when I was first on stage, getting my bearings. When I dance I can’t look at the audience. I pretend it’s just dress rehearsal and there’s no one watching me.”

“I was watching you.” He brushed his hand across her cheek. “And what do you mean, getting your bearings?”

Shifting in her seat, Tam leaned against the back and stretched out her legs. “I find the edges. You know, so I don’t misstep and fall off. I don’t want the audience to know how much of a klutz I really am.”

“I would catch you.” He stood, turned to face her, and held out his arms. “Let’s practise. You fall off the bench and I will catch you.”

Tammy slapped her hand against her mouth, giggled, and shook her head.

“No is the wrong answer.” He crossed his arms. “I’m doing my best knight in shining armour impress—” He glanced down at his suit. “Change that to, I’m here in my best Hugo Boss suit doing by my Sir Lancelot impression of a brave and noble knight, willing to rescue a damsel in distress. You have to fall, so I can catch you.” He thrust his arms out.

“Do it,” a voice from somewhere in her head shouted.

Digging up a moment of courage, Tam stood, climbed onto the bench, and turned to face her gallant knight-wannabe. She bit back a tsunami of nervous giggles, raised her arms, and moved them in an undulating, snake-light movement. Swerving her hips in a slow figure eight pattern, she rippled the muscles up and down her belly. She took two steps to the right then slightly turned to the left. She raised the back of her hand to her forehead and squealed in a perfect drama-queen voice, “Ooh. Catch me.” Then shifted her balance and allowed herself to fall.

His arms were strong as they pulled her close to his body. Inhaling the sensual aroma of his aftershave, she rested her head against his shoulder and let a wave of serenity wash over her.

His gaze met hers. “I feel at a moment such as this, we should be introduced. I’m S.C.”

“Tamara.”

“Hello, Tamara. Lovely name.”

“What does S.C. stand for? And are you going to put me down?”

“If I must.”

About Exquisite Christmas: When romance writers give love stories to the world, we do more than entertain – we share our hope for something better. These imaginative moments of happy-ever-after warm the soul and ripple outward. The world needs more love, and every bit helps.

We hope you enjoy this collection of heartwarming seasonal tales and delicious recipes by twenty-one Bestselling, Award-winning, and Multi-Published Authors from the international Exquisite Quills community: Victoria Adams, Rose Anderson, E. Ayers, Beverley Bateman, Lily Bishop, Barb Caffrey, Helena Fairfax, J.D. Faver, Jennifer Garcia, Romy Gemmell, Vonnie Hughs, Susan Jaymes, Gemma Juliana, Jean Lamb, Lyndi Lamont, Zanna Mackenzie, Janis Susan May, Dee Ann Palmer, Jane Leopold Quinn, Kaye Spencer, and M. S. Spencer.

Happy Holidays!

Amazon – Kindle or Print

Barnes and Noble – Print

iBookstore – Print

 

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Bio –

Author Bio – Victoria Adams, author of NA contemporary and contemporary romances was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. Victoria lives in the country where she takes long walks on her quiet country road and in the summer tends her flower gardens and vegetable patch and in the winter dreams about them, while they are buried under two feet of snow. Her large farm house now holds only her cat, herself, her husband and a ghost.

Victoria Adams is the alternate pen name to another author – secret identity. She is indie published.

Published works

Dancing In Circles (Circles Trilogy book 1)

Circles Divided (Circles Trilogy book 2)

Circles Interlocked (Circles Trilogy book 3)

A Guy and A Girl

Red Tulip

Exquisite Christmas (anthology of Christmas Stories and recipes)

Where to find me

Blog – Victoria’s Pages of Romance – http://victoriaadams.blogspot.com

FaceBook – http://www.facebook.com/victoriaadams.romancewriter

Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Adams/244325918978641

FaceBook page – Books by Victoria Adams – http://www.facebook.com/CirclesTrilogy?ref=hl

Twitter – http://twitter.com/_VictoriaAdams

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/101309354959026073738

Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Adams/e/B007DVKQVC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434080349&sr=1-2-ent

Wattpad – http://www.wattpad.com/user/VictoriaAdams

Wix – http://victoriaadamsroroman.wix.com/romance-author

…and Today’s Blog Exchange Continues at Lyndi Lamont’s Site

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Folks, I hope you will not mind traveling today, as I am guesting at Lyndi Lamont’s blog for today’s “blog exchange.” (Lyndi is also known as Linda McLaughlin, and by either name is an excellent writer. Her site is LindaLyndi.com, and she has all sorts of interesting articles over there. Do make a note of it.)

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the differences between writing a romance for teens — or at least stories that contain romance as an important element such as in my Elfyverse — and a more mature love. And as Lyndi and I both have stories in Exquisite Christmas, I decided to use examples drawn from the second of my stories there, “To Hunt the Hunter.”

So, you have Bruno and Sarah on the one hand. They are innocent, young, involved in their first (and only) serious romance, and are feeling their way. They don’t yet know what they want, but they do know they want something.

ExquisiteChristmasAd3(1)And then you have Marja and Tomas, the protagonists of “Marja’s Victory” and “To Hunt the Hunter” (both included in Exquisite Christmas). They are not young. Marja in particular is not beautiful and does not care to be, even though she’s a shapeshifter so she obviously could be if she wished. Tomas is a telepathic mountain Troll, so he’s used to people lying to him and values someone who’s being truthful above all others.

After I put up a couple of excerpts (you need to go to Lyndi/Linda’s blog to check them out), I said this:

First, Bruno and Sarah are obviously young. This is their first and only serious relationship, and they are both respectful of one another and innocent, to boot. (They both like to think they’re not, of course. But that comes with the territory.)

Marja and Tomas, on the other hand, are not young. They have been in a serious relationship for quite some time and work well together. But there is genuine love there, and genuine understanding, besides – note that Tomas says, “Those other fools who passed on you do not matter anymore.” No male of any species would ever say that to a woman if he didn’t truly and deeply love her. And no woman would smile just for him (as Marja does, though I ended the excerpt before she smiled for the sake of brevity) after hearing something like that unless there was genuine love on her part as well.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy my guest blog over at Lyndi/Linda’s site. I know I enjoyed writing it — and I enjoyed having Lyndi here at the Elfyverse today as well. (I’m even hoping to coax her to come back in the New Year, so she can tell us more about what’s going on with her stories.)

Happy holidays, everyone — and do check out the Exquisite Christmas anthology as it’s a true “comfort book.”