Tag Archives: Holiday Stories

The next Pryde Ranch Shifters book…

Is on its way!

It’s been turned in to the editor and will be included in a holiday boxed set. I’ll give you details as I received them, and as soon as I have a release date and cover, I’ll be sure to share.

In the meantime, the latest Pryde Ranch Shifters book, Shiftin’ Sassy, is available from Amazon KindleWorlds.

Tally ho!

PromoBanner

Merry Christmas!

I’m currently sitting in my office thinking about the wonderful year I’ve had. I didn’t have a ton of releases or make much money from writing, but what I did have were the most fantatic interactions, both in person and online, with people that share my passion for books.

You all have enriched my life so much, and I want to thank you for that. You could have been spending your time elsewhere, yet at conferences you chose to talk to me, have dinner or coffee, and sometimes just be plain silly with me. And online you shared my insane love of shoes and goofiness.

In a word, you all are WONDERFUL!

Again, thank you so much, and Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Snippet Saturday – Winter

Enjoy a snippet from my winter novella, Forever December, a Rocky Mountain tale of second-chance love that blooms in the spirit of the holidays. Afterward, be sure to visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post! Merry Christmas!

Melaniece Matthews muttered to herself, carefully navigating the icy winding road leading up to the high country.

“Man, how weird was that? Michael Bannon, a vampire?” The same strange dream plagued her at least twice a week for the past six months. They’d started immediately after she’d returned from a short trip home to California. It had been so good to see her friends and family after being away for eight years. And beyond lovely to see Michael again—the man she’d always loved. And – sigh—the man who’d seen her as just a great friend. Instead of marrying her, he’d hooked up with someone else, a woman named Janna. The end result? Six years of hell on earth for him. And now he haunted her in her sleep.

While Melaniece could admit she’d thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with him after so many years, she sure as hell wasn’t going to own up to the fact that he’d been on her mind ever since. Her dream crept around the edges of her mind. “What if he is a vampire?” she smirked to herself, a sarcastically evil grin plastered across her lips. “That would explain why he ripped my heart out by marrying Janna. There’d certainly been plenty of blood to go around.”

Peering through the cold, clear windshield, Melaniece grimaced as her thoughts turned to her favorite holiday. Instead of the usual elation about Christmas, she was assailed with a mix of emotions she couldn’t quite nail down. There was the thrill of spending time with her children after a whole year of separation, chased by a longing for intimate companionship so acute she found herself on the verge of tears. Then, right there at the back of her mind was an elusive sense of naughty anticipation. But for what? A good lay? Not likely. She had no prospects and no interest in hunting for any.

Michael’s handsome face popped into her head complete with fangs and a roguish grin, just like in her dream. Damn, she could practically feel the gorgeous, redheaded hunk making love with her as his incisors rasped over her skin. Yep, right there on the big sheepskin rug in front of the fireplace. Perfect spot.

“Hah, right,” she laughed with a snort and waved the image away. But her breathing quickened in spite of her refusal to acknowledge the fine-assed man with fangs dancing around in her head. Give it a minute and her pulse would return to normal, right? In spite of the freezing cold, the car was suddenly hot as hell. After a quick glance down at the console, she rolled her eyes up to the roof of the car. The damned heat wasn’t even turned on!

“Good grief, I’m hopeless,” she quietly grumbled. And it was all her dream man’s fault. Key word—dream. First off, she’d long given up hope in that quarter. Second, there was no such thing as vampires. So Michael was single again. Big deal. They’d had a great time reuniting in California six months ago. Who cared? None of it meant he wanted her now any more than he had eight years before.

With the car packed full of wrapped packages and luggage, Melaniece focused on the upcoming holiday. A glimpse at the pile of boxes in the backseat brought a small smile as she reminded herself this was a season to give generously to those you loved…and those who loved you back. And boy was she prepared to do just that.

Her children had spent the past year in an exchange program teaching English in Japan. It was amazingly expensive to live on the exotic little island. With most of their meager salaries going toward rent, groceries and train fare, the two had gone without some conveniences. When they returned to Minato-ku, a suburb of Tokyo, they’d sure as hell take lots of top-of-the-line goodies with them. Nothing but the best for her kids.

Christmas Day was fast approaching. She looked into the rearview mirror and spoke sharply to the woman reflected in the narrow glass.

“Okay you,” she said to herself. “No more goofy dreams, no more wasting time mooning over someone you can’t have and no more vampire nonsense. It’s Christmas and you’re gonna accept whatever Santa decides to give you. Got it?”

Got it. She popped a classic holiday CD into the player and hummed along with Eartha Kitt’s original bluesy version of “Santa Baby”. A few songs later, with genuine laughter, Melaniece let Nat King Cole chase away her blues as she headed up the highway to her vacation home to meet her family. Up there among the snow-capped peaks, the long-toothed boogeyman was not allowed, no matter how yummy he looked in her sleep, damn it.

Snippet Saturday Authors
Lissa Matthews
Rhian Cahill
Leah Braemel
Myla Jackson
Caris Roane
Jody Wallace
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
HelenKay Dimon
Shiloh Walker
Delilah Devlin
Eliza Gayle
Lauren Dane
Felicity Heaton
Shelli Stevens

Snippet Saturday – Cold!

Last week’s theme was near and dear to my heart given we’re still in the grips of winter. Well, sort of in the grips of winter. I must admit that a couple of days ago it was so beautiful outside if I’d had a motorcycle I wouldn’t have hesitated to dig it out just to take advantage of the blue skies and weirdly warm weather.

This week’s topic *bleh* is cold places. So let’s dig out the snow boots, ski jacket and fur-lined pants and go for a visit to Colorado at Christmas time. Luckily our vampire hero doesn’t seem to have any issues with frost bite…well, he has no problem with the frost part. But biting? Definitely his thing ;D

Enjoy the Snippet, then be sure and visit all the fabulous Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the page – have a great weekend!

Forever December
Nook | Kindle | iTunes | Sony

“Mel, it’s not as bad as it looks, I promise.”

“How can you say such a jacked up thing to me, Michael? I’ve never spent the Christmas holidays without my children. Ever!” Every spot on her now tense shoulders and neck grew warm. Such talented fingers. Oooh, the easy massage was working. Come on girl, get it together. You’re supposed to be mad, remember?

“I’m going home to Denver to join them. You can stay here if you like until the roads are clear enough for you to drive home.” Damn it was cold. The backs of her legs were nicely warmed by an obviously heat efficient Michael along with the warmth streaming from the laundry room, but the front of her body was so chilled her poor nipples felt like little popsicles. Tempted to step back and lean against the spinning clothes dryer, she yanked away from Michael’s gentle touch instead.

Mad? Absolutely. Stupid? Hell no, and there was no way she was going to chill her toes by stepping into the garage. Holding onto the doorjamb she leaned out and stretched for the door opener mounted on the wall.

“Mel, don’t you dare open that garage door while you’re standing here naked,” Michael warned. Oh, so now he was going to tell her what to do? Not bloody likely. He had some nerve and how dare he growl at her like that. She would have told him so if her eyes hadn’t been pasted to the sight revealed by the open garage door.

“I repeat, this is just not happening,” she whispered. “Oh come on, Santa, work with me here.”

“What was that, Mel?”

“N-Nothing. Never mind.” All she could do was stare at the four-foot wall of snow standing between her car and the driveway outside.

At least the kids left last night, otherwise they might not have made it to Denver at all in this mess. And it was still coming down in big, wet flakes. Instinctively she turned to the huge vehicle parked next to hers, but could only shake her head. Even Michael’s Hummer wasn’t big or bad enough to get out of the garage. They were well and truly snowed in. And before she could make it out of the laundry room, the dryer began to spin slower and slower until it stopped altogether…just before the lights flickered off. Along with everything else in the house. Damn, damn, DAMN.

Snippet Saturday Authors
Eliza Gayle
Rhian Cahill
Anne Rainey
Jody Wallace
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Alison Kent
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Shiloh Walker
TJ Michaels
Shelli Stevens
Zoë Archer

Shrimp Creole, Baby! (x-post)

In case you missed the announcement of my new release along with the awesome recipe that was posted over at the Smutketeers Annual Xmas blow out last week, I’m x-posting it here. If you cook this dish (Cajun food, bebe!) be sure to tell me how it turns out!

In honor of my new Christmas release, Forever December (Kindle | Nook), let’s get down to business about one of the things I love about this story: FOOD!

At the beginning of the story , the heroine, Melaniece, meets her kids at their mountain getaway for their Christmas vacation. The first thing Mel notices after receiving her hugs and kisses is the scent of yummy Cajun food filling the air. For myself, growing up in a home with a Louisiana grandmother, Cajun food is something I absolutely love. I can actually make a mean seafood gumbo, too!

Later in Forever December the family enjoys some homemade cinnamon rolls, which my daughter happens to make from scratch. Her speciality is something we call Peach Burst rolls – cinnamon rolls made with Saigon Cinnamon with fresh peaches baked into the dough. Nom nom nom nom!

Now, back to the Shrimp Creole. Seems to me that many people assume what Shrimp Creole is. Unfortunately their belief is typically based on some half-assed, watered down, tomato-sauced fake version shown on TV or from a person who claims they’ve make authentic Shrimp Creole…via a recipe that is unauthentic. Not their fault. They probably just didn’t know.

First, what is it? It’s a simmered shrimp dish in red sauce that is served over white rice. Perfect for cold nights and good company. That pretty much sums it up. However, the flavors are complex and when made correctly, can be damn addicting.

So here’s how to make it…but first things first:

Do NOT use tomato sauce or marinara sauce in your shrimp creole *tj wagging finger, scowling and tsk’ing*. Use fresh tomatoes and run ‘em through a food processor or something. If you don’t have the time, use a good quality tomato paste instead. But never, ever use tomato sauce.

Next, instead of chicken stock or water, make shrimp stock with the shrimp shells OR as a good alternative make dashi (Japanese fish stock) using bonito flakes (but be careful – leave the bonito flakes in too long and it’ll be much too strong). Here’s a recipe for dashi in case you want to make it for things other than shrimp creole. It really is very VERY yummy.

Use the best quality gulf shrimp you can get. It can be pricey, but there’s nothing quite like the sweet smooth flavor. If you can’t find them locally, there’s a place called Deanie’s that I visit when I’m in New Orleans (god, they make the best PoBoy sandwich ever) and they’ll SHIP YOU Louisiana gulf shrimp for a very reasonable price.

Now for the recipe, which you can double or triple if you want to make a big pot:

Shrimp Creole:

2 lbs. (or more, if you like) Peeled and Deveined Shrimp (remember to save shells to make Shrimp Stock)
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small Green Pepper, finely Chopped
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
3 Cups Ripe Tomatoes, Diced
2 Cups Shrimp or Fish (dashi) Stock
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2-4 Bay leaves
2 tsp Black Pepper
1 small bunch of fresh Thyme, coarsely chopped
Sliced Green Onions (garnish)
1/8 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped (garnish)
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (careful with this)
Boiled Rice

  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan (be sure it’s big enough to fit the shrimp and stuff later).
  • Saute all the vegetable EXCEPT the tomatoes and herbs. Once the veggies are soft, add the tomatoes and Old Bay seasoning. Toss in some salt (a big pinch should do). Turn down the heat a bit so as not to burn the tomatoes before they have a chance to break down.
  • Once the tomatoes have cooked down and begun to fall apart turn the heat up, add the shrimp stock or fish stock, bay leaves pepper and cayenne. Add the herbs and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • Taste your sauce. If it needs “something” now is the time to add it. Make sure it’s got enough salt (remember you haven’t added the shrimp yet), pepper, garlic and herbs.
  • Bring your sauce back up to a boil and, if you like, thicken it with a few tablespoons of roux (basically oil and flour browned, then made into thick gravy) or use a cold water-n-cornstarch mix).
  • Once thickened a bit, throw in your shimp. Good lord, don’t overcook the shrimp or they’ll taste like rubber. Turn the sauce back down to low heat and let it simmer until the shrimp just begins to turn pink (remember, after you turn off the heat, the shrimp will continue to cook).
  • Service with rice and garnish with green onions and the parsley.

Voila! Shrimp Creole!

If you make this be sure to let me know how it turned out! Merry Christmas and have you have a Forever December…

TJ

Snippet Saturday – Family Holiday Fun!

At holiday time we get in the kitchen and my family cooks together. My son makes a mean fresh cranberry sauce from fresh berries. My daughter makes breakfast wonderful with her homemade cinnamon rolls, and we do all the meal prep together for whatever nom-nom’s we’re going to have that year. We typically choose something different each year. Last time we have gumbo – genuine seafood gumbo made by these hands, compliments of my Louisiana grandma *wheee!!*. This year we’re down to the wire and still deciding what we’re cooking. But whatever it is, we’ll do it together.

Releasing this week is Forever December – the story of a hunky vampire out to secure a second chance at love. In this snippet, our heroine has just rolled into her vacation home to discover her children, home for a visit from college, have prepared her some goodies. And she’s all ready to dive in!

And don’t forget to check out the fabulous Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the end of the post!

The sun had just dipped below the mountain peaks when Melaniece pulled into the garage. Snow had begun falling in fat, wet flakes and she was relieved to see a big, black SUV covered with a fresh dusting of the white stuff parked on the other side of the wide garage. She slammed her car into park thinking now was a good time to do a funky little happy dance—her children, Denise and Melvin, were already here.

The second she shut off the engine and popped the trunk, an excited and very loud female came hurtling out the door. A blur of what looked like a white sweatshirt covered with red Japanese hiragana symbols and a pair of black pants practically tackled her before she’d cleared the car door.

“Hi, Mom,” Denise squealed with happiness.

Melaniece’s heart melted and a big grin tipped up the sides of her mouth. Awww, it was so nice to be loved by one’s children.

“Hi, sweet pea, it’s so good to see you. Where’s your brother?” Melaniece asked, trying to peek over her daughter’s shoulder toward the open door leading into the house.

“I’m right here, Mom. How are you?” Melvin asked cheerfully. Long jean-clad legs carried him out to the garage and to Melaniece’s side. Six-feet-two inches of slender muscular male wrapped his arms around both sister and mom, engulfing them in a warm group hug.

Melaniece stepped back and grinned widely at her “babies”. At eighteen and twenty years old, they were mirror images of herself, with the exception of their dwarfing her modest five-feet-four inches. Long, dark locs covered their heads, apple pie cheeks sported dimples and they both flashed perfect, bright smiles. Their cocoa-n-cream skin and strong physiques were rounded out by stellar personalities. Beautiful and handsome described them to a tee.

Melaniece stepped back and shook her head in disbelief at Melvin. “Boy, are you ever gonna stop growing? I know you’ve grown at least a few good inches since I last saw you. And so good-looking, too? You know you get that from your mama, right?” she quipped. And there it was—the blush only a teasing mom could bring about in a grown son. It bloomed in his cheeks until they looked like little caramel-covered apples.

“And you should see all the girls that chase after him. And once I caught him and the neighbor…” Denise chimed in, ever the older sister.

“Mom!” Melvin implored.

“Okay, enough teasing your brother,” Melaniece chuckled, feeling happier than she had in…well, since her trip home to Michael, er, California. But she wouldn’t dwell on that. Or her goofy dream.

“Help me with my stuff?” Moving toward the already open trunk of her car, she turned to grab whatever was closest at hand and began to fill the arms of both Denise and Melvin with their Christmas gifts.

“Good lord, woman, what is all this?” Melvin asked, feigning a gasp under the weight of a particularly hefty box.

Melaniece didn’t answer, just smiled and handed over package after package until both their arms were loaded. Before she could reach for another one, Melvin said, “Go on in and relax. We’ll bring this stuff in. Dinner is already prepared.”

Melaniece felt her stomach tighten and rumble. Gosh, with all the packing, the long drive up, and preoccupation with her dreams—not to mention the constant low-grade arousal because of those dumb nocturnal thoughts—she’d completely forgotten about breakfast and lunch. Well, her stomach made it clear it was feeling neglected and the loud rumble was heard by all.

An aroma hit her nose the second she stepped over the threshold into the house. Shrimp, tomatoes, garlic…Old Bay Seasoning?

“Wooo, I smell it,” she cried happily. “Cajun food! Oh yeah! Uh-huh!” An awful rendition of the Electric Slide dance carried her on inside. She headed directly to the kitchen, not the least bit offended when her kids’ chuckles followed her. Yep, this was going to be one heck of a Christmas.

EIGHTEEN Snippet Saturday authors to enjoy!
Lauren Dane
Rhian Cahill
Eliza Gayle
Selena Blake
Anne Rainey
Jody Wallace
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Myla Jackson
Taige Crenshaw
Vivian Arend
Alison Kent
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Shelli Stevens
Shiloh Walker
Leah Braemel

Smutketeers, baby!

In honor of my new Christmas release, Forever December, on December 14th I’ll be hanging out with the Smutketeers for their 12 days of Xmas extravaganza. I’m so totally excited because I’ll be sharing the day with the marvelous Michelle Pillow and Mandy Roth! Woooo!

Be sure to catch my post that day because in addition to hot hunky winter vampires, I’m going to tell you how to make Shrimp Creole. It’s a dish I grew up loving thanks to my Louisiana grandmother. If you make this particular nom-nom, be sure to tell me how it turned out. AND, if you’re going to the Authors After Dark convention in New Orleans, let’s hook up there for sure!

Can you handle…a Forever December?
Coming December 14th

TJ

Snippet Saturday – Holiday!

Merry Christmas, everyone! This week’s theme is Holidays and it’s totally appropriate given today is Christmas. Gift Wrap Optional is a story of a chance at regaining lost love. In this snippet, our heroine, Melaniece, has woken up for the first time in the arms of her lover, Michael. He drove two days from another state just to be with her as a Christmas surprise.

Enjoy a snippet from my holiday story, Gift Wrap Optional. Don’t forget to hop over to our other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of this post.


Excerpt from Gift Wrap Optional
eBook (Nook),
eBook (Kindle),
eBook (Ellora’s Cave),
Paperback (BN),
Paperback (Amazon)

Note for Readers: You must be over eighteen to read this excerpt.

There are some advantages to being mated to a vampire, Mel.

He’d done it again! And she could tell his words were meant with humor because she could…well, she could just tell. But how?

Can you hear me, too? she asked, thinking the words rather than speaking them.

Yes, but you don’t have to close your eyes and scrunch up your face in order for me to hear you.

He was laughing at her! Bastard.

Yes, but it seems I’m your bastard.

Okay, all this mind talking was giving her a headache. Time to use words now.

“Actually, it’s the face scrunching that’s causing the headache, baby.”

Chuckling at herself all the while, she delivered a smile-laced scowl. “Stop laughing at me and explain what just happened, damn it.”

“Remember I explained bonding, and how my blood and semen will enhance you? This is one of the benefits.”

“But I thought you said…”

“You won’t and can’t be turned, Mel, but my bodily fluids will affect you, baby. You’ll heal faster and your senses will heighten, including some of the typically dormant ones.”

“Like empathic and telepathic abilities?”

“Exactly,” he crooned into her ear, his tongue sending a shiver up into her scalp. Obviously, he’d rather be doing something other than talking, but he continued anyway. “But you’ll only be able to hear and speak to me telepathically, no one else. And I promise to give you privacy, sweetheart. I won’t ever pluck thoughts from your head without permission.”

“Can I read your mind if you’re not speaking to me?” she asked eagerly.

“No, thank god! Not unless you’d possessed the ability already.” Her mouth dropped open in dismay but he soon had her laughing again when he said, “Don’t tell me that you, a biogeneticist, believed everything you’ve seen on TV?”

She couldn’t help giving him a playful punch to the gut for the little sarcastic remark because she had indeed thought Bram Stoker’s Dracula was paranormal gospel.

Reaching up to wrap her arms around his neck, she said, “Since I’m learning about your kind, tell me how I can get some of that good-smelling vampire morning breath.”

“Kiss me,” was his answer. And by the time he finished taking her mouth like he needed to draw his last breath from it, Melaniece was gasping. The craving erupted so rapidly along her nerve endings from just a gentle meeting of the mouths. It was the most decadent thing she’d ever experienced.

Now he eased up on his knees and planted himself squarely between her wide-spread thighs, leaned forward and licked the spot on her breast he’d bitten the night before. Warmth, no, sizzling
heat spread outward from that spot just above her right nipple until it engulfed her entire upper body. She squirmed and writhed, grabbing two fists full of his hair to pull him closer.

“Michael, that feels so good. Will I ever get used to this insane reaction to you?”

“God, I sure hope not,” he said, a satisfied smirk firmly in place. “Because now that I have you I’ll never get enough of you, Mel.”

Saturday Snippet Authors
Jody Wallace
Leah Braemel
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Eliza Gayle
Delilah Devlin
Sasha White