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Guest Post: Maria Duendí (Under the Mistletoe–Hush)

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I hate New York City. I have lived here for nearly eight years and I have never gotten into the cutesy “love/hate” stage most people do after a while. I hate it. I hate the smell (in the words of Han Solo, “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!” Every day. Many times a day). I hate the lines of people that could rival Soviet Russia’s (sometimes I stand in a line just so I don’t possibly miss something.). I went to a Wegman’s in Pennsylvania, near Penn State, and I forgot to get something before I got in line. “Take your time, honey,” the cashier said. Take. Your. Time.

What I especially hate about New York, however, is the noise. Right now, there is construction being done on a new luxury building on our block (thanks, gentrification!), and we are being assailed with beeps, grinding, knocking, yelling. At night, the cement mixer sounds like it’s fucking. More power to you, man

 

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One evening, my husband and I came home close to midnight. I stepped out of the car, and I felt the ambient noise vibrate through my body. There was a whooshing sound—-the sound of cars getting off and on the FDR drive. There was a general growl from the electricity running in so many homes. Panic hit me at the back of my throat. “It’s never going to stop, is it?” I asked my husband. Day and night, the machine ground on.

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My husband is a city boy, so of course he told me I was exaggerating. “Everywhere is like this,” he said. But I remembered sleeping out in the desert when I was 20 years old, nothing but clear, dark, sapphire sky, the sound of the wind brushing the trees like a thin film over it. Even in a more populated area like State College, most people’s concerns are not about how kinky the construction equipment gets. There are escapes out there—-soothing oases to clear your head, to change your mind.

“Hush” stemmed from my fear of noise going on in perpetuity—-the grinding, growling, crackling noise of the city amplified by a mysterious force. The residents of the city in the story have no escape—-they’ve been hemmed into the city and they have a curfew. The only conduit to escape is a boy who really, really likes a girl, and we can’t (and wouldn’t!) blame the girl for accepting his invitation.

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 “Where are we going?” I asked, when it was quiet enough for him to hear my words. I added, “Do you know?”

He turned to me, shocked and amused, as if he had been alone and he had only been driving with his beer and my thighs holding it. “Yeah,” he said. “I know a place.” It was the first time I had heard his voice—deep and gravelly.

“Why aren’t you already there, then?”

A foolish grin came across his face. “Uh, travel ban?”

I laughed. “You broke that without thinking. How did you—”

“You wanted to go, right? Away from the Noise?”

I breathed in. The Noise lingered, but I could feel relief from it through the cold window. The man opened the window and there was an admirable silence. I breathed it in and out and my tongue was no longer unhinged. I let out a big whoop—a blade of sound piercing a soap bubble. The man chuckled to himself—at the twinkling of quiet stars, at me.

We stopped just a few blocks down from a stoplight—quiet blocks with shabbily genteel shrubs in front, a porch swing here or there. We approached the most run down of them. The wood of the porch had not been repainted in a long time—patches of brown and wincing tan peeked through the gray. There was a porch that was low to the ground and a balustrade wrapped around it.

The man reached over me to open my door to the car. I inhaled his clean scent, his body hovering me warm compared to the cold outside.

“Why me?” I asked, in his shadow.

He opened the door and removed the bottle from between my thighs, his eyes suddenly looking into mine. “Because you said yes.”

 

About Maria Duendi:

Maria Duendi resides in the New York City. She enjoys an almost obscene obsession with perfume and an addiction to Star Trek: Deep Space 9. This is her first publication.

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My first experience as the editor of an anthology

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Part of why I went radio silent for so long was that I was genuinely overwhelmed this fall. I hadn’t originally planned on being so busy, but between campaigning for Hillary Clinton by phone banking fellow Democrats in Asia, helping my daughter study for exams that counted for 50% of her grade for the year (the second grader, for the record—thanks, Singapore public schools), and editing I was buried in work for about ten weeks straight.

As a first-time editor with a firm deadline in mind, I felt like I was trying to harness lightning in a bottle. Back in September, I posted that I was reading the entries and that I’d stumbled upon an embarrassment of riches. After sorting through all the entries, I came up with the final list of acceptances that alternated poems and stories. This meant I also came up with a list of “no’s.” I can honestly say that doing the rejecting sucks, although not quite as hard as being rejected.

I set nine deadlines with a week of buffer space in case something came up–and my daughters’ joint birthday party took up all of my time for several days, so I ended up pushing things back a few days–within that margin of error. They were

  • Contracts Out
  • Contracts In
  • Edits Out
  • Editing Period
  • Edits In
  • Compile Book Into 1 Document
  • Book to Authors for Typo Review
  • Book back from Authors
  • Book to Publisher

I had three giant charts on my wall. One was the bullets above with the deadlines. The second was for my poets and the third was for my prose authors. Each title had a horizontal line with boxes for contract in, editing, final edit, typo review. This allowed me to see who was in what phase of the process.

Over the course of those nine deadlines several unplanned things happened. People didn’t return their contracts, a “sweet romance” story was pulled by the author–I think because she second guessed having her story featured in an erotica anthology–leaving a gaping hole in my anthology at the last minute, and so on. That put me in an awkward position as it was late enough that I couldn’t pull up a rejected story and start the editing process from scratch–or write something brand new myself at that point–so I ended up recycling one of my older stories, “Baby It’s Hot Outside,” a version of which was in Summer Loving. I’m still a bit uncomfortable with that solution, but without it we wouldn’t have hit the 50k word minimum to get a print run.

Every editor has their own style. Depending on the author and the story, the amount of communication and revision varied from one/two emails to many. I wanted to ensure that the authors retained as much creative control as possible, as that has been my preference as a writer. I’m certain that my authors’ opinion of whether I achieved that goal will vary, much as my experience has varied over the years.

Will I do another anthology? Maybe. Not immediately. The process was exhausting.

I have a few anthologies I want to submit to as an author. I need to focus on writing the next draft of Plunder. And my daughters, who know I write books but that they’re not old enough to read them have asked me to write them books. So my plate is pretty full.

Perhaps after submitting Plunder.

In the meantime, you can pre-order the digital version of Under the Mistletoe and the paperback edition is already on sale at Amazon!

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This charity anthology will benefit Project Linus, which provides hand-made blankets to children in crisis.

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Under the Mistletoe is available for pre-order and a sneak peek at “Kid Comet”

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Great news! You can pre-order Under the Mistletoe at the following shops!

Santas reindeerI have something of an annual tradition–writing one of my North Pole Series short stories.

It all began with a story called New on the Naughty List, about Lucy the Elf who investigates if Matthew is Naughty or merely a Nice guy on the wrong list. (read it for free here) By the end of writing that story, though, I was in love with sarcastic, nerdy Blitzen the Reindeer. Last year I wrote A Reindeer by Any Other Name, which tells the story of who what Blitzen was doing during the events of Lucy’s story. (read it for free here) Each story works as a stand-alone story as well as part of the larger on-going series.

I knew I wanted to write another story in this universe for Under the Mistletoe, and the result is my new f/f story, Kid Comet, set one year after A Reindeer by Any Other Name.  (Disclaimer—Kid Comet is a comic book reference–there are no underage characters)

Claudia was drafted to cover Comet’s emergency maternity leave with only twenty-three days instead of months to prepare. When she visits New York to get a crash course, she falls head over hooves for Jillian, the elf in charge of the region.

If you’re a fan of the reindeer, you’ll want to read the next chapter. (Blitzen fans–he makes a cameo.)

Here’s a sneak peek.

I took notes on a tablet as Jillian’s staff ran me through the buildings we were scheduled to visit throughout the region and where I should land the sleigh. I fiddled with my stylus, sneaking glances at Jillian, who sat opposite me. I hoped no one noticed my nipples pointing directly at the object of my desire.

The afternoon was spent on regional geography. Meteorologists walked me through typical weather patterns and the biggest outliers. My notes grew frantic, my handwriting deteriorating.

I can’t do this.

Memorize every building in the territory, every flight pattern through it, the name of every elf in it? Plan a path through the region? Pull the sled? Put up with being called Kid Comet? That I could do.

Make decisions in the air where the entire team and Santa would defer to me? The room was going in and out of focus. My pulse thundered in my ears.

“Sorry all,” Jillian interrupted the meeting. Her voice sounded far away. “I’ve got an urgent incoming call for Comet. Clear the room!” A second later, paper pushed against my lips. “Claudia, breathe into this! You’re going to be okay. Breathe in. Hold it. Now out.”

She breathed in and out with me until I was no longer gasping for air.

“Tell me what happened.”

I shook my head. “All I’ve ever wanted was to join the team, but I can’t do this. Not with less than a month to prepare. I can’t!”

“Yes, you can,” she took my face between her hands. Her eyes glowed with intensity.

“What if I make the wrong call?” I whispered.

“Then you’ll figure it out. The team will help you. You’ll be yoked next to Blitzen in part because this is his home territory. He’s abrasive, he can be a jerk, but he won’t let you fail. No one else will, either. The nine of you are a team, Claudia. They’ll trust you, they’ll let you take charge, but they won’t let you send them into the ocean or approach a snowstorm the wrong way. I promise.”

Jillian stood, and returned with cold water. I gulped it gladly.

“I’m canceling the rest of the day. Rest, then we’ll go to the show.”

I nodded. I retreated to my bedroom, where I buried my face in my hands in shame.

What kind of reindeer has panic attacks?

“She won’t let me fail,” I whispered to the room over and over.

I have FIVE copies of the anthology to give away in exchange for an honest review. Please email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com or leave a comment on this post if you are interested.

Under the Mistletoe Cover and TOC

:blows dust off blog:

I’m so sorry to have gone mostly radio silent over the past few months. I can tell you that editing the anthology was no small feat, incredibly complex, and that I am so pleased with the results. I’ll blog more about what it was like to be a first time editor, but today I wanted to show you the cover and the Table of Contents.

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I’ve organized the anthology to take the reader on a journey from Dec 1st to the 31st, alternating poems and stories. The poems and stories run the gamut from sweet to kinky with everything in between. Under the Mistletoe will soon be available for pre-order, and will be published on Dec 1, 2016.

Table of Contents

Santa, Kinky by Blacksilk

Kid Comet by Delilah Night

All I want for Christmas is Sex by Sheryl Collins

Carpe Marine Christmas Package by Muffy Wilson

Silver Bells by M. Marie

Tugging Reins by Sonni deSoto

The Twelve Days of Christmas by DJK

Strip Dreidel by Rob Rosen

Under the Mistletoe by Ramona Thompson

Accosting Santa by Sommer Marsden

A Thaw in Midwinter by Jaylan Salah

The Green Lady by Malin James

A Christmas Eve Snow by Marcia Conover

Summer in December by Tamsin Flowers

Patriarchal Winter Night’s Dream by Jaylan Salah

Hush by Maria Duendí

Winter’s Majesty by Stacy Savage

Christmas in Minneapolis by CeCe Marsh

Crossing the Road on a Winter Hike by Jaylan Salah

Baby, It’s Hot Outside by Delilah Night

Frosty by Corbin Grace

Adrenaline Rush by Bob Buckley

Goosebumps by Stacy Savage

Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot? by Ashe Barker

I can’t wait for all of you to have the opportunity to read it!

Guest Post: Ashe Barker and her new book

Hello lovely readers. I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting–I’ve been editing all the amazing stories and poems you’ll read in Under the Mistletoe. Today I’m thrilled to have Ashe Barker, a fellow Totally Bound author and contributor of a sizzling hot story in Under the Mistletoe, guest posting about her new release, Resurrection.

 

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Hello, and thank you so much for inviting me over to talk a little bit about my latest paranormal/time travel erotic romance, Resurrection.

I have always loved time travel romances, and in particular I’m intrigued by the stories where a character comes forward in time. As a writer it’s a dream to imagine all the wondrous and terrifying things they would encounter and to weave those into some sexy and occasionally hilarious scenes. Resurrection has a lot of that. Imagine for example a fifteenth century noblewoman let loose in a twenty first century shopping mall. Or her first encounter with a fast car. Or modern plumbing. Throw in a sexy vampire Dom and my joy is complete.

I am often asked about the inspiration which sparks an idea for a story. No spoilers here, but readers will be aware of the amazing event which took place in the current century and which stripped away five hundred years of accepted wisdom about one of our most infamous historical characters. Richard III was vilified by the Tudors, most ably abetted by one William Shakespeare. In Resurrection Richard is a relatively minor character but still manages to hold his own as a towering figure who influences much of what happens, and makes an amazing reappearance at the end of the story.

Resurrection is both contemporary and historical, paranormal and an erotic romance with the BDSM themes I love to write. I hope readers enjoy this mix of genres as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

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The past is only a heartbeat away

Right from the start she knew it wasn’t about love.

As the youngest daughter of a wealthy family in medieval England, Lady Jane of Acton has been betrothed to Gerard Twyfford, the son of the Earl of Roseworth, since she was a baby. A dynastic marriage such as theirs is about power and property, not love but even so Jane desperately yearns for her husband’s approval. But Gerard’s rare visits to her bed are for the sole purpose of producing an heir, and she’s even failed at that. How can Jane win Gerard over when she cannot even be the wife he needs her to be?

Would one last chance be enough? Could he make things right, even now?

Ged Twyfford doesn’t know what he’s missing in life. A powerful vampire, he’s lived for close to six hundred years and seen a lot during his time but his past still haunts him. On a whim, he purchases Roseworth castle, the keep he used to rule as lord. Mostly in ruins now, Roseworth is a shell of what it was when he was still a mortal but Ged is determined to make it his home again. Maybe this is what he’s been missing, maybe he needs a place to belong at last.

When a woman emerges from the lake beside his castle, looking and sounding a lot like the wife he lost over five centuries ago, Ged assumes she’s a witch out to dupe him. But what if she is who she claims to be? Ged finally realizes just what he had, and just how precious to him was the wife he betrayed all those hundreds of years ago.

Do they really have a second chance or is it just too late to start over?

And of course a sensuous and hot excerpt…

 

“So, are you ready to lay yourself across my lap, Jane?”

“Will you hurt me?”

“Of course, though not so much that you won’t be able to stand it.”

“What if I want you to stop?”

“This is a punishment spanking so it’s over when I say it is. If you start to feel overwhelmed and want me to pause for a moment though, you need only ask.”

“And, after…?”

“And after, I shall hold you until you stop crying, and I’m sure that all’s well between us. Then I shall fuck you. You should be aware, Jane, I intend to make a better job of it this time.”

He was pleased to see a delightful flush creep across her cheeks. Time to pinken her buttocks to match.

“Jane?” He patted his lap.

She stepped to the side then leaned across him, lowering herself into position.

“Further forward, if you please. Lift up your bottom for me.”

Jane obliged him, pushing herself up onto her toes to present her beautiful heart-shaped arse. Ged admired the pretty curves, leaning to his right to catch a peek at her pussy lips just visible between her thighs. He contemplated asking her to spread her legs to afford him a better view, but decided against it. He had plenty of time and would explore her sweet little cunt soon enough. For now he opted to concentrate on the spanking. It was no hardship, he couldn’t recall an occasion when he had ever anticipated administering a punishment with quite so much relish.

Jane jerked hard when he laid his palm on her upturned buttock. He caressed her skin, felt the muscles tighten beneath his hand as she clenched in anticipation. He circled her soft cheeks with his palm, first one, then the other, saying nothing. He continued to caress her until she softened, her body relaxing, ready for him.

The first slap was soft, but still she gasped. He stroked the sensation away, then dropped another spank onto her sensitive behind, harder this time. She let out another soft sigh, but didn’t shift her position. He continued to slap her soft cheeks, peppering her behind with spanks which became harder, sharper, more intense. Soon she was wriggling on his lap, rubbing hard against his erection. She could have no doubt of his arousal, and he was acutely aware of hers.

As he ramped up the punishment her pussy lips glistened, then moisture started to trickle. She dampened his jeans, though he would swear she was unaware of her physical response. Her head though, that was another matter entirely. He rifled her thoughts shamelessly, and knew the moment, even before her body went limp, draped across his thighs in absolute surrender, that he had her. She was his, to do with as he pleased.

 

Buy Links       

Amazon

All Romance

 

Read Chapter One for free

 

About Ashe Barker

USA Today Bestselling author Ashe Barker writes erotic romance and spanking romance in a variety of genres including contemporary, BDSM, paranormal, historical. ménage, gay romance and time travel. She is a #1 Amazon Bestseller and all her stories feature hot alpha males and sassy submissives, often with a lot to learn. Kink abounds, and there’s enough dirty talk to satisfy the most demanding smut lover. However dark and dirty the setting, love always emerges triumphant, and her stories never fail to deliver a satisfying happy ever after.

 

Social Media Links and Newsletter sign-up

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I’m reading your entries

Whenever I submit to an anthology, I look at the response email with pretty much this look before clicking open to read it…

finding doryDid you like my story? Please say yes.

As the tables have turned, I thought it might be interesting to be transparent about my first experience as an editor.

I posted the call in late June, and I was shocked at how fast entries started to appear in my inbox. I made a point of replying to each email to let them know I’d received their entry, or to clarify my submission guidelines. There was a lull, and then in August there was another wave (that unfortunately coincided with an unplanned move) and today I found three emails where I’d received the entry but never responded. I feel like an ass and I’m sorry, three people who know who you are.

A few of you wrote and asked if I’d automatically reject something that arrived at 12:01am on Sept 1

I always wonder about this, too, and I’m almost always a last minute entry. Just ask any of my editors.

The answer I gave them–and now all of you–is that due to living in Asia, I’m 12 hours ahead of the East Coast of the US and 15 ahead of the West Coast, etc. September 1st was the day we celebrated Teacher’s Day at my daughter’s schools and they were both home on Friday September 2nd. As I told the people who asked–I wasn’t really watching the clock. This is also a charity anthology, so while other editors have their own rules, for a variety of reasons no, I wasn’t watching the clock.

How many submissions did I get?

Nearly thirty, and no, I wasn’t prepared for that. I don’t know if it’s just my own insecurities, but I was worried that I wouldn’t get enough submissions to make a full anthology. But an embarrassment of riches cuts both ways. Yes, I would make a full anthology. The downside is that I will end up rejecting stories that I love.

Have you read everything yet?

No. I’m trying. Professionally–I also have a story I need to edit, two to write, and some other commitments. Personally–I have two young children who have been on vacation for a week and don’t get back to school until Tuesday. (Send chocolate and earplugs.)

What are your top pet peeves from this process (thus far)

1–Not reading the call. (sending me file types I can’t open, sending working the body of your email)

2–Not putting your name on  your work.  I had multiple stories and poems with a title and no author’s name. Put your name on your work (this actually ties for #1 pet peeve)

3–Not adhering to the specified formatting. (I have sympathy because formatting was something I fucked up for years, and have only really figured out recently. I remember Lynn Townsend asking me to do something formatting related and my reaction was ??? That said, being on the receiving end makes it frustrating because now I have to reformat work).

When will I hear from you?

By October 1. As early as I can manage. I’m not blogging etc because I’m trying to prioritize reading.

Does a yes mean I’m done?

No, there will be edits. I find typos is Nora Roberts books. Mostly it will very little, as the competition is stiff (pun intended, sort of).

Does a no mean that my story/poem was bad?

Some stories are by authors who are still rough diamonds. Others are incredibly written but I can’t have five stories with the same theme. A rejection isn’t actually personal, although having received many I can say it still sucks. I’m sorry, Baby Dory with the giant eyes.

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Review: Evergreen and Poinsettias by Kassandra Lea

Evergreen and Poinsettias

Submissions for my anthology close today, and I unintentionally set myself up with a short and sweet Christmas story to get me off on the right foot when planning my reviewing calendar.

If you’re looking for a sweet, short Christmas romance, this is a good choice. Brylee slips and falls one day, and finds herself staring into the eyes of the most handsome man she’s ever met. Will their chance meeting end with a simple thank-you wreath from her flower shop, or is it the start of something more?

I found myself identifying with both Brylee and her sister. Brylee is shy and a bit lonely. Her sister keeps assuring her that true love exists, reminding her of how quickly she went from meeting to wedding her husband. I spent many years kissing frogs, but like Brylee’s sister I went from meeting to marriage in an extremely short period of time (and have been married, happily, for a decade).

Lea reminds us that love may find you in the most unexpected of places.

Brylee Mariotte is hoping to get a boyfriend for Christmas, and when she meets Liam Casey, it looks like she might just get her wish.

It’s the magical holiday season again and, like everyone else, flower shop owner Brylee Mariotte can’t help but get swept up in it. Of course, the phrase ‘happiest time of the year’ only makes her loneliness worse. As she watches the happy couples, she starts wishing and hoping for Santa to bring her a man to call her own, and not just for the holidays. She wants the real deal—someone for the long haul.

When the dashingly handsome Liam Casey offers her a helping hand, Brylee begins to think that miracles might just exist. The bookstore owner’s touch lights a fire deep inside her, one she thought would never get burning. But what if Liam isn’t as into her? Or, even worse, what if he’s already married?

With a little touch of evergreen and a whole lot of Christmas magic, Brylee may just get her man.

Evergreen and Poinsettias can be found at your favorite e-book retailer, including amazon.