Monday, November 19, 2018

Escape from the Holidays with Mischief Corner Books

There were days following the divorce of my parents when I would have done anything to escape the holidays. Once, before moving into my first apartment and starting new traditions, a middle sister invited a house full of smokers over for Christmas Day and, hiding in my room, I thought I'd been transported to a dump fire. For years at Xanadu, our home in New Hampshire's North Country, we've enjoyed Halloweens with our writers' group friends and an annual party with a story theme, our Thanksgiving open house and sit down dinner, and quiet Christmases, just us, the cats, a big dinner, and a movie.

When I read the call for Mischief Corner Books' new holiday line, "Escape from the Holidays", I wanted in. I'd published with this excellent company before -- first in Behind the Uniform and then in This Wish Tonight. I had one idea I felt would work, a contemporary M/M romance idea that first came to me in 1997 in a dream called Burning Down the House that had sat on a note card for decades and now screamed at me to long last write it. Seated on my sun porch, I put pen to paper and the pages flowed with shocking speed, the characters finally given their time. I dashed off the first draft (some 12,000 words) in four days and turned in my story. I'm thrilled to report that Burning Down the House, which aims to rewrite the definition of a family while keeping its bonds intact during one stressful holiday season, releases on December 1, 2018, as part of MCB's "Escape from the Holidays" line.

Starting on 11/28 with Kassandra Lea's Stay Awhile and wrapping on December 29 with Freddy MacKay's Waiting on the Rain, MCB is offering ten tales of holiday-themed escapist reading. Many of my fellow Escape artists shared the back-stories behind their wonderful. tales.

Kassandra Lea on "Stay Awhile": "In my short story, you meet Anson, who is asexual, and Daly, the man who stole his heart. It's closing in on Thanksgiving, but instead of the joyous holiday Anson is planning on, he's depressed about where his relationship stands with Daly. A few weeks previous at a Halloween party, Anson blurted out the fact that he's asexual. Will Daly be okay with this? The story came about for a few reasons. One, I'm a little burned out on writing Christmas stories and feel like Thanksgiving always gets overlooked. Two, there aren't enough romance stories out there with asexual characters and I want to help see that change. And finally, being gray-ace myself, I wanted to put into words some of my own fears and doubts that come along with relationships and acceptance. You could say that I'm basically Anson, in a way. While my relationship status remains a rocky road, I am fortunate beyond belief that my family and friends understand that my view of love is fluid. Now, if only I could manage to find someone like Daly!"

Evelyn Benvie on "Something to Celebrate": "This novella started in a lot of places, with a lot of things, before coming together into something cohesive. But if I had to pick one place in particular, I would say it started while working in retail over the holidays. There is nothing that has made me want to Escape from the Holidays more than having to work through them in close contact with the public every year. I knew I had to incorporate that perspective into my writing and it ended up becoming the basis for my first main character, an overworked and stressed-out grocery clerk in need of a bit of holiday magic. And that’s where the rest of the novella started: in the bits of random winter myths that have been knocking around my head for years. The Japanese Yuki-onna, the German Schneekind, the Russian Snegurochka, all these related/unrelated stories were the basis and inspiration for my second main character, a lost winter spirit looking for somewhere to call home. Add some misunderstandings, a prying best friend who may or may not be human herself, demi representation, and a lot of parks (I’m not kidding) and that is how Something to Celebrate came to be."

Lou Sylvre on "The Holiday Home Hotel": "Magical realism. That’s one way to describe The Holiday Home Hotel. It’s romance, it’s contemporary, and it’s also magical, but I honestly didn’t mean for it to be so. Magic is a stubborn little idea. Nearly every story I write, long or short, light-hearted or dark, pulls in the idea of magic until I can’t help but let it live there. Even my Vasquez and James series—contemporary romantic suspense—has a secret bit of magic in it, though only one reader ever told me they spotted it. But for today’s purposes, that’s really beside the point. The magic in The Holiday Home Hotel isn’t secret—not at all. Slavic goddess Lelia and forest spirit Leshy (who’s playing at being a brown-furred black bear) start their mischief right on page one. Lelia is Daren Slovak’s canine companion, a fluffy white Belgian shepherd, and when Daren plays fetch with her, he has no idea how very much more she truly is. And when I first started writing the tale, neither did I! She was simply going to be a dog named after a minor goddess of luck and springtime. I started thinking some of the things she did—like leading Gunny Schiller out of the wintry woods and into the Holiday Home—could be magic. And then I thought, what if…. A story transformed! Delightfully magical divine intervention, the promise of luck in love, and a sexy springtime romp in the cold middle of winter. See why I love magic?"

Mere Rain on "Celebrations in the Season of Long Nights": "It is set at Yalda, the Persian holiday of the winter solstice. Threatening supernatural forces are at their strongest on this longest night of the year, and it is traditional to keep the fires burning, the music playing, and the food and drink plentiful. Stay up all night celebrating with those you love. Unless you don’t have anyone to go home to. Or you’ve been tasked with fighting evil more directly. Yima is a demon-hunter, a duty passed down through his family. He doesn’t resent it, but it does get lonely, especially since his work is at its most difficult and dangerous when everyone else is celebrating with loved ones. After he rescues Shahin from a demon attack and finds that he has nowhere safe to stay, he takes him back to his flat. Yima has just arrived in town and doesn’t even have electricity yet, leaving the two men with little to do but talk. It isn’t a surprise when they end up in bed, though what at first feels like a temporary comfort grows over days spent together into a deeper bond. Can nomadic Yima find a way to stay without demons coming after his lover? And does Shahin want to risk his heart loving a man who constantly puts his life in danger? I will also be blogging about how to cook for Yalda for the blog tour organized by Other Worlds Ink, running from 12/3 through 12/15."

Angel Martinez on "Yule Planet": "The winter holidays are time for traditions -- lots of them. My holiday story from last year (Safety Protocols for Human Holidays) was a humorous lesbian space opera, so I thought I'd start a new tradition, too, this year being the Second Annual Angel Martinez Humorous Lesbian Space Opera, Yule Planet. I had so much fun with last year's that I toyed with returning to that universe and ship, but really I'd said what I'd wanted to say there. Instead, this year's story stems from something I've found equal parts fascinating and horrifying, and was reminded of again during a visit to Disneyworld the past September. Theme parks. In particular, immersive resort types of theme parks -- how they operate, how they keep guests trapped in a dependent experience, how they treat, portray and sometimes exploit employees. Naturally, since this is science fiction, I decided to take the theming to a planetary scale and the Yule Planet Resort Corporation was born. Happy holidays to you and I hope you enjoy this tale of a resort vacation gone terribly wrong."

J. Scott Coatsworth on "Slow Thaw": "Javier stood on the ice, staring up at the night sky. Behind him, the lights of Bettancourt Station lit the snow in a thirty foot radius. But out where he stood, absolute darkness ruled.
The stars above were brilliant sparks of light, far brighter than they ever were back home, especially on a moonless night like this. He wondered, not for the first time, if somewhere out there on another planet spinning around one of those stars. If someone else was looking up and wondering if there was inteligent life somewhere out there.
It was brutally cold out--negative sixty degrees celsius--but it suited him. It was the anniversary of Terry's death, and he needed the cold. Needed it to numb his soul.
Plus he needed a little space from Astrid. She'd been at the station for almost half of her rotation, and already he wanted to be rid of her.
He closed his eyes. They said the ice sang, that wind blowing over the ice shelf made a haunting, beautiful music too low for the human ear to hear. He imagined its strains, part of the great cosmic opera. The song that would continue long after humankind was gone.
Javier opened his eyes and returned his gaze to the ice.
Somewhere out there, someone new was waiting for him. Terry would send him someone to love, wherever he was. Somewhere past the ice.
He took one last look at the stars, and turned to trudge back to the station, now suitably numb."


  1. Thanks for collecting our thoughts and posting them, Gregory. It made for a great post! Congrats on Burning Down the House—great title, by the way. :)

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