It’s the most wonderful time of the year! OK—scratch that. It’s time for another obligatory family gathering. And nothing spices up the egg nog like bringing your partner home. Surely your belligerent brother-in law, your gimlet-eyed granny and your drunken uncle will keep it classy. With forced proximity and alcoholic beverages, what could possibly go wrong?
- Decked Out by Eva Moore
- A Perfect Fit by Adrienne Bell
- Crazy Old Money by Kilby Blades
- Stealing Christmas by Kari Lemor
- Touched by Fate by Preslaysa Williams
- Ringing in the Reefer by Marie Booth
- The Thanksgiving Parade From Hell by R.L. Merrill
- Thankful in Perdition by Erin St. Charles
- Feliz Chanukah! by Meg Bellamy
This anthology is for readers who love any or all of the following: m/m, #ownvoices, plus-sized heroes, interracial/multicultural families, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah!
Warning: It is best to leave this one to the mature audiences. Note: Many of the stories in this anthology are not queer.
R.L. Merrill is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card OR a $25 Dreamspinner Press gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:
Evolution of a Character – Orrie Jones
Orrie is kind of the adult version of my inner thirteen-year-old boy. He’s able to stand in front of crowds and perform, (his gift is singing, mine was dancing), he’s insecure, and he has some coping strategies that aren’t necessarily the healthiest way to deal with stress.
In the beginning of my story Thanksgiving Day Parade From Hell, we find Orrie in his safe place: the bed he shares with his boyfriend Dalton Bishop. He’s been gone on tour for several weeks and he’s only home for a couple of days for Thanksgiving before going out again. He and Dalton are enjoying a nice round of morning sex when Orrie’s anxiety about spending the day visiting their families comes to a head. Dalton notices early on Orrie picking at a callous on his finger. This perseverating, or the repetition of a word, phrase or gesture, is a behavior that can often be caused by autism, ADHD, a brain injury, or some other issue with the brain. When I was a kid, we didn’t have diagnoses for things like this necessarily, and I did exhibit some behaviors of ADHD, but they were mostly due to the massive amounts of allergy medicine I had to take to function. I went from hyperactive to zombie within minutes, and I could get really wrapped up in things like picking at my skin or clothes. I would scratch myself (gently, not to do damage) with a paperclip or play with a rubber band just to keep myself focused. As an adult, I still do these things. Now I frequently choose to get my nails done with acrylic powder which gives me plenty to pick at. I’m a tactile person, a kinesthetic learner, and this repetitive behavior was and is a way for me to soothe myself or stay focused. My two children have similar behaviors and their therapist refers to them as Highly Sensitive Children. Yay genetics.
Back to Orrie. Orrie starts out the story simply picking at a piece of a callous and by the midway point of the story, the reader starts to see where these behaviors came from, how they affect his life, and how having someone understand him and his needs is such a huge blessing for him.
I made some major changes to this story after my editor looked at it and said, “I don’t get why Orrie is so morose. Nothing that bad happened.” I read back through her notes and it dawned on me that no, nothing that bad happened because in a lot of ways Orrie was me and I was trying to make this easier on him! I didn’t want him to suffer like I did and do sometimes. After rewrites, I believe the story is much more powerful now. And Orrie, sorry dude, I had to make you go through the bad parts so you could appreciate the good parts that much more.
I hope you enjoy my story and the other fantastic tales from my co-conspirators in the Worst Holiday Ever Anthology. For more about perseveration, here is an article I read that shows how parents deal with this behavior. http://parentingadhdandautism.com/2014/04/adhd-perseverating/.
If you want to know more about my brand of love, hope and HEA, visit my website at www.rlmerrillauthor.com Thank you for having me on your blog and Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
“I don’t know why she insists on serving quiche at these things. Who the hell eats quiche, anyway?” Orrie picked at the spot on his finger.
Dalton shook his head. “Only old people. And hipsters.”
Orrie laughed humorlessly and leaned back in the seat. “You don’t have to do the boxes this weekend. I can do it tomorrow before I leave.”
“Forget it,” Dalton said as he started the car. “I get you to myself tomorrow until I take you to the airport, and I’m not losing a single minute of time with you.” He leaned over and kissed Orrie sweetly. “It’s been a long six weeks, baby.”
“Too long. I missed you.” Orrie closed his eyes and Dalton took that as a good sign. He hoped that meant Orrie would be able to relax at their next stop. Because he sure the hell wouldn’t.
Ahhhh, Casa de Bishop. The eternal bachelor pad. The house where Bishop men went to lick their wounds and drink. A lot. And today being Thanksgiving and the holy day of the pigskin, Dalton had prepared his defense. He just had to get past this next two hours, and then he and Orrie would move on to…his mom’s. Okay, make that the next four hours.
He pulled the car out of the pretentious neighborhood where Orrie’s grandmother lived and drove down the hill to the more blue-collar area of Castro Valley. It was a funny town in that way. You had these newer, expensive developments up in the hills and canyons, but a lot of old neighborhoods from the forties and fifties that remained affordable for the low- to middle-income folks in the East Bay.
Peter Bishop, Dalton’s father, lived in such a home, one he’d inherited from his parents. The boys had grown up there, and currently, Dalton’s brothers Terrence and Stanley lived there with him. Both had broken up with their significant others in the past year and now, with their divorced father, they lived the life of swingin’ singles. Dalton just hoped the house was in better shape than it had been the last time he was here.
“Hey, doll,” Orrie said, reaching for his leg. “I know how much you worry about them. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you want to go…”
And that was just one of the many reasons Dalton loved this man more than anything. He looked over and Orrie was smiling at him in that way that made Dalton feel like any second he was going to be a weeping mess on the floor, but in a good way. Not in the way he’d grown up experiencing.
“I want to see them. I do. We’re supposed to be thankful on Thanksgiving, right?”
Orrie nodded, frowning. “You are the most thankful person I’ve ever known. You see the positive in everything. Sometimes to your own detriment.”
Dalton barked out a laugh and his eyes burned. He was tired of fretting over a situation that was never going to change.
Orrie got out of the car and walked around to Dalton’s door, which he promptly opened, pulling Dalton in for an embrace that felt more supportive than seductive, and yet it had both effects. Dalton may have been the one to pursue Orrie, but Orrie had seduced Dalton with his compassion as much as his passion, with his love as much as his loving.
“If you promise not to take any shit from your brothers, I’ll promise not to cause any bodily injury.”
Dalton snorted and dropped his forehead onto Orrie’s shoulder. “You know they’re going to give me shit, and I know you’re going to give it right back. Just don’t hit anyone this time. You don’t have that luxury, you know? You can’t afford any injuries.” He thought about Orrie picking at his finger and hoped it wouldn’t get worse as the day wore on.
Orrie sighed and kissed Dalton’s head. “I’m insured,” he said against Dalton’s hair. “If I happen to have an injury, they’ll find some other poor schmuck to play guitar for me. Shouldn’t be too hard. Any adolescent boy could play—”
“Stop it right there. You’re as full of shit as a Thanksgiving turkey.” Dalton put a finger against Orrie’s lips.
“I’m serious, baby. Please.”
Orrie laughed. “We have an audience. Should we give them a show?”
Orrie just loved to be demonstrative in front of Dalton’s brothers. They couldn’t contain their disgust, not so much because Dalton was gay, but because the thought of their oldest sibling being sexually active with anyone made them want to hurl. Since Dalton had been more of a father to Terrence and Stanley than dear old Dad, they tended to treat him that way.
“I’d say we should give them a show, but honestly, that’s not playing fair. If I want them to behave, I can’t exactly go sinking to their level.”
“So I shouldn’t fondle you right here?” Orrie slid his hand down Dalton’s chest.
Dalton winced and sucked in a breath.
“Did I hurt you? I’m sorry.”
Dalton pressed his lips together firmly and pulled back from Orrie. “I’m fine. Really.” Was that my voice coming out sounding like a little girl’s?
Before Orrie could interrogate him, which would really ruin the surprise Dalton had worked so hard to make happen, Peter Bishop slammed open the front door.
“Hurry up, you two, before Terry burns the damn turkey!”
Dalton stared wide-eyed at Orrie. “Did he just say turkey?”
Orrie nodded, his brow furrowed once more. “Are your brother’s actually cooking?”
“Come on, you two. I gotta get in the backyard.”
The screen door slammed shut and Dalton jumped at the sound.
“Have your phone ready to call the fire department,” he said to Orrie as he sprinted up the walk. Dear God, don’t let those idiots burn the place down.
Eva Moore: As a young woman, Eva Moore loved nothing more than to dive into the pages of a book. She even met her husband while reading a romance novel. When the second baby came along though, she found she had little time for diving into anything but laundry. Missing her stories desperately, she began to make up her own. The stories she played with while she washed dishes and changed diapers demanded space on the page, and she was hooked. Winning Cherry Adair’s Finish The Damn Book Contest has propelled her career into high gear. Eva now lives in Silicon Valley, after moving around the world and back, with her college sweetheart, her three gorgeous girls, and a Shih Tzu who thinks he is a cat. She can be found most nights hiding in her closet-office, scribbling away, and loves to hear from the outside world.
Kilby Blades: Kilby Blades is a fresh new voice in smart contemporary romantic fiction. A business executive by day, by night she writes dynamic characters into (and out of) tantalizingly complex predicaments. Critics laud her “feminist romance”, noting empowered heroines and multi-dimensional heroes who are staunch advocates for their partners, stepping back from their own spotlights in order to let their women shine. From dry wit in her angstier books to blatant humor in her lighter ones, her characters are resplendent in their witty repartee. All her stories, regardless of genre, serve up delicious dilemmas and never-before-seen plots. When she’s not writing, Kilby goes to movie matinees alone, where she eats Chocolate Pocky and buttered popcorn and usually smuggles in not-a-little-bit of red wine. Kilby is a mother, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story.
Erin St. Charles: Erin grew up watching Star Trek and reading Barbara Cartland novels (don’t hate), wishing she could create something that brings her love of science fiction together with her love of romance. Still a romantic nerd at heart, she writes sensual, diverse stories that blend fantasy, adventure, and love.
Kari Lemor: Kari Lemor grew up as one of those kids who read all night under the covers. Once she had her first glimpse of a romance novel at age 12, it was all over. Romance was in her blood. It would be many years before the stories that ran rampant in her head finally drove her to put words to paper, though. She wrote self-indulgently for the first few years and only recently began penning stories to share with others. She still writes stories that are self-indulgent but hopes others might get some enjoyment from them too. Now that her children are all grown and have moved out, she uses her spare time to create stories of love and happily ever after romances where heroes ride to the rescue of damsels who have already saved themselves. She lives with her husband in a small town in New England dreaming of warmer weather. But only if it’s near the ocean.
Adrienne Bell: Adrienne Bell is the author of over a dozen action-packed romances including the bestselling contemporary Second Service series and the new Exiles of the Realm paranormal series. She loves nothing more than writing quirky heroines with a knack for finding trouble and the hardheaded heroes who help them fight their way out of it. Adrienne lives with her husband and sons on the far edge of the San Francisco Bay Area where she spends her downtime reading, binge-watching nerdy television, and scrolling through Disneyland fan websites.
Meg Bellamy: Along with her husband, her family and her books, language is Meg’s passion. In fact, by day she’s a mild-mannered language teacher. Currently, she teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) to international students, but in her early teaching days, her main subject was French. Though her French is a bit rusty these days, she figures a trip to France would help fix that. She’s also studied Russian, Spanish and Italian. This love of language spills over into her writing craft and appreciation for books — and travel! Meg also has to travel to see other family members in New Jersey — a mere continent away from Meg’s home in Northern California. Being a published member of the community of writers with her contemporary romances and women’s fiction is the fulfillment of one of Meg’s most cherished dreams. Her first release, Homecoming, was released October 19 — a week before her birthday — from The Wild Rose Press.
Marie Booth: Marie’s a Northern California girl with a love of all things artsy fartsy – as her brother says. A theatre and fantasy geek, she writes sexy paranormal romance and has a hot contemporary series releasing this year. You can contact Marie here:
R.L. Merrill: Once upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut from Dreamspinner Press later, with more tucked away in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant and busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
Preslaysa Williams: Preslaysa Williams is an award-winning author and actress. She writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with an Afro-Filipina twist. Preslaysa has a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and is currently earning her MFA in Fiction from Seton Hill University. Connect with Preslaysa online at her website (www.preslaysa.com) or on any of these social media platforms: