Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Making Merry - and Making Plans

How do you celebrate this festive time of year?

We all have traditions - many of which involve food (feasting), family and friends. I always look forward to Christmas Day, which we celebrate with my side of the family. We have turkey with all the trimmings = the hostess makes the turkey but other parts of the feast come from guests. (I'm taking the pie this year.) There are gifts, of course, too, but the company is really the best part.

On the other side of our family, our tradition has changed in recent years, and this too is part of the magic of tradition. We think it has to be always the same, but actually, there's room for modification and variation. Mr. Math's mom used to make a roast goose dinner on Christmas Eve and we all went there. She was a fabulous cook and it was so delicious that none of us dared to try to cook the meal instead. Since she passed away, and Mr. Math's father shortly thereafter, we modified the tradition. I've been hosting a dinner for both sides of the family early in December (usually the weekend of first Advent) when everyone's calendar has a little more open space. I did roast goose the first year, but now understand why my MIL found the geese stressful to make. They are hard to predict, which makes it hard to time everything else to be done when they are. Last year, we had roast duck instead, and this year, we had prime rib. I think I'll go back to the duck again next year. They're more like goose, but easy peasy - which helps when you have the chaos of company!

Traditions can also be added to our celebrations. We used to have a neighbor from Scandinavia who burned a torch all night long on the solstice. Mr. Math thought this was wonderful, and it was neat to see the flame against the night. We now have a garden torch which Mr. Math lights on the night of the solstice (but we don't leave it burning all night long, just so long as we're watching it). This year, we had torrential rains on the solstice, so the torch had to stay in the garage, but there will be next year. (I lit some candles in the house instead to call back the sun.)

A bit part of this time of year for me is reviewing the last year and planning for the year ahead. I usually do that on the solstice. I've updated my work schedule and my publication list, and there's a post on that scheduled on my blog for January 4.

Of course, a part of this festive season is sending greetings and good wishes to friends and associates, many of whom are distant. We don't send or receive as many physical cards as was once the case, but I still send some - and we do receive wonderful email wishes, too. It's the sentiment that counts!

One of my writing traditions is to publish a new book in the week between Christmas and New Year. This year, it's a new boxed set of my Prometheus Project urban fantasy romance series, which features fallen angel heroes on a quest to save humanity. They voluntarily shed their wings for the greater cause, fully intending to reclaim them once their quest is complete, but love (and determined heroines) change their mind each time. I love these books, and the contrast between a gritty dystopian future and the promise of love, and am excited to offer all four complete novels in a boxed set. Currently, The Prometheus Project Boxed Set is available only at iBooks and Kobo. It will deliver on December 29.

Another of my seasonal traditions as a writer is to thank my readers with a book sale at this time of year. The Crusader's Bride, which is the first book in my current medieval romance series the Champions of Saint Euphemia, is on sale now at iBooks and Kobo for just 99 cents. It'll be on sale at the other portals next week. The Champions of Saint Euphemia is a linked series I've wanted to write for a while. Each book is a medieval romance, but the series follows the journey of a company of knights (some Templars and some former-Templars) from Jerusalem to Europe as they deliver a sacred relic to the Temple in Paris. Someone wants the treasure and is willing to kill for it. These stories are entangled, with each hero and heroine adding to the overall story. The Crusader's Bride begins the quest, as Gaston leaves the order to claim his inheritance in France and finds himself in need of a bride. He picks Ysmaine, and gets far more in a wife than he ever expected.

It's a good time to begin the series, too. The second book, The Crusader's Heart, was published in October, and book #3, The Crusader's Kiss, will be published in January. Book #4, The Crusader's Vow, will finish up the originally planned series in April - but there's been a fifth book added. The Crusader's Handfast is being published in monthly installments, and the first one was published on December 15. Part Two comes out on January 15. The complete book will be available in July, in both print and digital editions. Also (!), The Crusader's Bride will be available in an audiobook in January. You can listen to a sample from that audiobook, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, right here.

Talking about audiobooks brings us to another way I'm thanking readers this month. I'm participating in a promotion with over 50 authors called #XmasAudio. Many of us are giving away an audiobook per day for the month of December. Right now, my featured audio title is The Snow White Bride, which is a medieval Scottish romance set at Christmas. All you have to do for a chance to win is comment on this post on my blog. You can also search for other #XmasAudio giveaways with the hashtag, on Facebook and Twitter.

How do you celebrate this festive season?

I hope your month is merry and filled with good friends, good books and good cheer. See you in 2016!

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