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Gale and Michele are our winners! Thanks so much for joining us!

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Elisabeth Barrett: I’m thrilled to welcome Grace Conley, Addison James, and Gayle Parness to my blog today. They are three authors in the Candy Cane Kisses and Enchanted Embraces box set, which contains ten (count them!) holiday romances that range from paranormal to contemporary to new adult. Thanks for joining me, ladies, and of course the first thing I want to hear about are the books. Spill!

Grace Conley: Here’s the premise for Christmas Weekend: A Heart’s Delight Short Story: San Francisco cop Joe Maggiano runs into his long-lost flame on Christmas Eve – during a terrible fire! Will he and Gwyn be able to re-kindle their love over the course of a holiday weekend in charming Heart’s Delight, California?

Addison James: My contribution to our anthology is a story called The Holiday Fixer. It’s based on the holiday classic film, The Shop Around the Corner where two coworkers who despise each other in real life are unknowingly falling in love through anonymous letters. In my story, they meet anonymously on the online dating site they both work for called Coupling. She is the head of product development for the site and he is an outside internet security expert sent to protect the site from hackers. Sparks fly!

Gayle Parness: My story, Winter Solstice Wishes, begins and ends around a “murdered” Christmas tree. Elle, a lovely fae lady, has been a guest in Sasha’s home for six months, recovering from her mistreatment at the Faerie Court. Sasha, a sexy vampire, has fallen head over heels for Elle, but because of his troubled past doesn’t feel worthy of her. But it’s the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and the woodland fae have invited Elle and Sasha to celebrate with them. Perhaps this night will work its magic on two lonely, battered souls, helping them connect and find love.

Elisabeth: I love the fact that all of these books are written by NorCal authors. Are your books set in NorCal, too?

Grace: Absolutely!  In fact, what is currently known as the Silicon Valley used to be called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight,” back in the old days when the region was made up mostly of orchards and vineyards, rather than techno-googleplexes. Heart’s Delight, California is a fictional small town based on aspects of Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, and Santa Cruz. The first stories focus around the lives and loves of a tightly-knit family of vintners who are trying to build the next Napa.

Addison: I have one other book set in Northern California, also set in Silicon Valley called Pop-Tarts and Texting. I like cute geeks so Silicon Valley inspires me! My other books take place in other places I’ve lived: such as Boston, Edinburgh and Vermont.

Gayle: Winter Solstice Wishes is set in and around Crescent City, California, which is about as far NorCal as you can get. California offers up such a wide range of geographical locales, providing a wonderful palate for a writer seeking a good setting for their story.

Elisabeth: Where do you get your ideas?

Grace: I think all writers played spy a lot as kids.  I love observing other people and listening to them talk.  This might be through formal means, like interviewing a fireman, or informal, like eavesdropping on people in line to buy their morning coffee!

Addison: I usually get my ideas from real life. I hear a story, read something in the news and think, what if this happened instead of that, and what if… Kind of like that movie, Sliding Doors where the Gwyneth Paltrow character’s life changes based on whether or not she catches the subway train. I think, what if x,y or z happened instead of a, b and c, and write about it.

In this case, however, since there was a time crunch for the anthology, I took a plot from a classic film!

Gayle: I cheated. Both of my characters are supporting characters in my Rogues Shifter Series. Sasha, who’s been in all seven books, is one of my reader’s favorites so I thought I’d give him a girl to love. Elle made her first appearance in book seven. Both of them already had detailed backstories and were living in the same house, so it wasn’t too difficult.

Elisabeth: I know that this is Grace’s first published work, which is amazing! How did you decide to make your first piece a collaborative one?

Grace: I wanted to test out what people would think of the town of Heart’s Delight and its citizens, but the idea of indie publishing a short story all by its lonesome seemed silly…and a bit daunting!

I thought it would be so much fun — both for the authors and the readers — to get together a group of terrific Northern California writers and put out a holiday romance bundle.  I wrote notes to several author friends, and voila!  People can try out ten cool Contemporary and Paranormal writers for less than a buck.

The book is really a holiday card to our readers, written from the heart.

Elisabeth: Addison and Gayle, you two were both successfully indie published prior to this collaboration. Want to weigh in on the decision to do the box set? Was it more or less challenging than publishing solo?

Addison: I wanted to be part of the box set for a couple reasons. One is that although I’ve been published through small ebook publishers, I felt like I was missing something. Marketing, promotions, just in general how to sell a book is new to me. Also, writing is very solitary. I like being part of a team and that aspect of this really appealed to me.

Gayle: I almost bowed out. The fall was a busy time for me. I had a book already on pre-order, scheduled to release Dec. 19th that I hadn’t finished, let alone sent off to be edited. But after thinking it over, I decided I couldn’t pass up this opportunity for several reasons:

  1. Many of my Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America pals were doing the anthology and I love working with them.
  2. It gave me an opportunity to delve more deeply into two favorite characters’ lives.  I also got to spice things up a little since my regular series is a young adult series. Winter Solstice Wishes is not YA.
  3. The other authors involved were also top-notch and understood the importance of having a strong social media presence. I knew I could learn a lot from them.

And yes, it was more challenging in some ways than dealing with my own books where I answer to no one. (lol)  I’m one of those—Marketing? Sorry, too busy writing—kind of authors.  Social media posting, uploading, sharing, liking, and following had not been a daily activity for me in the past. Now I feel a bit more savvy in that department, and that’s not a bad thing in this connected world.

Elisabeth: What’s next in the pipeline for all of you?

Grace: More fun, sexy stories about the men and women of Heart’s Delight, California — I’ve been working on two back-to-back full-length novels.  I write alpha heroes with a sense of humor — the hero often ends up with egg on his face, preferably a whole carton of them lobbed by his heroine!  Hmm, now I’m thinking of writing a food fight scene…anyway, friend me on Facebook to hear more news about upcoming releases!

Addison: I am editing  a women’s fiction novel tentatively titled Second Chances about a woman who reunites with an old flame, and editing another one set in Silicon Valley about a four women in a book club, and their lives and loves.

Gayle: My new ebook, Breaking Out, Triad Series Book 1, is available for preorder and officially releases December 19th.  Woot!  It’s the story of a young male with a strong magical bloodline trying to survive in a dangerous paranormal world. You’ll be able to find it at all the normal vendors.

Elisabeth: Grace, Addison, and Gayle–thanks so much for joining me today! Candy Cane Kisses and Enchanted Embraces is available through early January, and you can find the book at all major e-tailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Apple, and Kobo

And here’s where you can find the authors!

Grace: Facebook

Addison: Website, Facebook, and Twitter

Gayle: Website, Facebook, and Twitter

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GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away 2 copies of the anthology to two lucky commenters below who “like” the box set on Facebook here, and answer this question in the comments section: Are you a candy cane purist (peppermint only), or will you accept a substitute (spearmint, cherry, etc.)? Contest ends December 11 at 9pm PST!

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ButtonsMom2003 is the winner!

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Fall is so different in NorCal than it is in New England. It starts later, for one. And it just doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t smell the same, either. No wood burning fires, no damp, crushed leaves underfoot–at least not for a long while. But the autumn winds are starting to blow and our neighbor has wind chimes. A little taste of home.

But we really need to get down to business because release day for Christmas in Tahoe is coming up fast! Last week I shared the back cover copy, and this week, I have an excerpt for you. But first, a little set up:

Our heroine, Ann Smith, is an actuary. Yes, an actuary. And our hero, Chase Deckert, is a snowboarding instructor. Her job is to calculate risk, and you can probably guess that as far as living goes, she’s quite risk-averse. He risks his life every time he carves up the avalanche-prone backcountry slopes. A match made in heaven, right?

Well, kinda, yeah. Because she’s not as risk-averse as she seems, and he’s not as risky as he appears, and together, they just work. Trust me on this.

So back to that excerpt. As you know, when I’ve done first excerpts in the past, I like to start at the beginning. And without further ado, here we go!

Christmas in Tahoe by Elisabeth Barrett

Chapter 1

“Mandy, please don’t do this to me,” Ann Smith muttered to herself as she scanned One World Insurance’s well-maintained parking lot for her ride. “Not right before Christmas.”

But Mandy Aligheri’s little blue Prius was nowhere to be seen. Just the usual panoply of sedans, minivans and SUVs.

And a handsome guy sporting a beard, leaning on a huge truck.

Definitely not her ride.

Her gaze slid over him and toward the entrance to the parking lot. Still no Mandy. It was just like her friend to be late, a pattern since college. They used to joke that if they combined Ann, who was always early, and Mandy, who was always late, they’d make one person who was always perfectly on time.

Oh no. One of her colleagues—a guy named Nick who frequently worked on her team—was approaching, and Ann held her breath. With her monstrous pocketbook and her skis in one arm and a giant roller bag on the other, there wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver on the path leading up to her office building.

Of course, Nick came right up to her. “You okay?”

“Yes.” Short and sweet, the way she always answered.

“Going to Tahoe?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” Nick sidestepped her and her bags, gave her a nod, and said, “Glad you’re getting away for the holiday. Have a great trip, and Merry Christmas.”

Releasing her breath, she nodded back. “Thanks. Same to you.” Nick disappeared into the building. And thanks for not dragging me into a ten-minute-long discussion about how I’m doing.

Just as she was pulling her phone out of her voluminous bag to see if she’d missed any messages, Huge Truck Guy peeled himself off his truck and started walking directly towards her.

“You Ann?” he said. Even from twenty feet away his voice carried, a deep masculine rumble.

She nodded stiffly.

“I’m Chase,” he said, holding out a hand. “Mandy asked me to come pick you up.”

Reluctantly, she shifted her skis to her left side and took his hand. Rough fingers slid over hers and gripped her palm. Strong. And warm.

And it wasn’t just his fingers that were rough. It was the whole package. He had on worn jeans and a crewneck sweater, and he was wearing a pair of hiking boots. His hair was a thick, midnight black and so was his beard—somewhere between a five-o’clock shadow and full-on lumberjack, but short enough to display his strong jaw and lean cheekbones to perfection. His eyes were almost as dark as his hair, and they were filled with intelligence.

A crazy pattern of heat played a samba on her skin. When she closed her eyes to get her bearings, kaleidoscope colors flashed behind her lids. Was she having a stroke? The likelihood of that happening given her age, sex, and overall health was less than one percent, as were the odds that she was having a heart attack. Tumor was another possibility, but that was ever rarer, clocking in at zero-point-fifty-five percent probability.

Dawning awareness crept over her and, shocked, she blinked once. Then twice. For this was something that couldn’t be predicted with any probability whatsoever. Something so creaky and rusted from disuse she couldn’t even recognize it for what it was.

Desire.

Excerpt from Christmas in Tahoe by Elisabeth Barrett (c) 2013

What do you think?

There’s a lot more coming. Next Monday, the cover will be revealed on Heroes & Heartbreakers, and if you sign up for my newsletter, there’s going to be an exclusive excerpt. Maybe even the whole first chapter!

And of course, there must be a giveaway! Because I am SO excited about this book, I will send one lucky commenter an official, digital copy on November 11th (release day)! Just let me know what risk have you taken, and why (and whether it turned out well, if you want to share that much) and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends Thursday, October 31st at midnight Pacific time (boo!), and the winner will be announced on Friday. No geographical restrictions since the winner will be receiving a digital copy of the book.

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Thanks for all your comments! gds is the winner! Next week I’m going to post an excerpt from the book, so stay tuned for that, plus more!

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Sorry for the radio silence. I promised I’d be back on October 14th with a giveaway, and I didn’t quite make that deadline because not only was I on vacation two weekends in a row (shocker, I know!), but a lot of writing-related stuff was going on behind the scenes. And now, I have some huge news to share with you:

So remember that Tahoe novel I wrote earlier this year? The one with the two lonely people who find and heal each other over Christmas? Well . . . drum roll, please . . . I’m thrilled to announce that Christmas in Tahoe will be released on November 11th, just in time for the holiday season! I will be revealing my cover soon, but have the blurb now. Ready? Here we go:

Silicon Valley actuary Ann Smith is an expert at calculating probabilities, but lately the odds haven’t been in her favor. Two years ago her fiancé died a week before their planned Christmas wedding, leaving Ann heartbroken and alone. When a friend suggests heading up to Lake Tahoe for a long Christmas weekend of skiing, wine, and relaxation, Ann thinks it might be just the thing to help get her life back on track. But Ann’s plans go awry when her friend cancels at the last minute, and Ann ends up driving to Tahoe with Chase Deckert, a sexy snowboarder who pushes all her buttons.

Chase Deckert is a man who lives by his own rules. A few years ago his business partner betrayed him by selling out their biomedical research for a quick profit. Chase left science far behind, and now spends his days snowboarding in Tahoe, wanting nothing to do with the dog-eat-dog world of Silicon Valley. Chase has closed his mind and his heart and only believes in one thing: fate. But fate seems to be in a giving mood, because joining him for Christmas is a brave, beautiful woman who shows him the true meaning of the season and helps him rediscover a part of himself he’d long forgotten.

Fueled by the mountain scenery, the season, and their unbelievable chemistry, Ann and Chase end up learning more about each other—and themselves—than they ever imagined possible. Can one long, steamy Christmas help them realize they’re meant to be together? Or when the holiday is over will they be right back where they started?


This was a very emotional write for me. Annie and Chase are real people with deep issues, who connect during what is supposed to be the happiest time of year. Unfortunately, the season has sad memories for both of them, and they’re none too thrilled to be celebrating, least of all with each other. To put it in perspective for you, the first time I cried while writing (and rewriting) a scene was for this book.

But don’t worry: there are also moments of absolute joy, and true to form, it is a very sexy read!

Stay tuned for more updates, including the cover reveal, giveaways, blog tour listings, and more, more, more! All this will be happening very fast, given that release day is in a few short weeks, so keep your eye on this page (and my newsletter, which always goes out first as an exclusive)!

Finally, for those of you who live in the Bay Area, I’ll be reading and signing at The Village Book Shop in Los Gatos this Thursday, October 24, from 7-9pm for their Grand Opening week. Check out my appearances page for more info.

And if you’ve made it this far, I have a giveaway for you: an audiobook of your choice (swag from RWA and there are some J.D. Robb stories in my pile!). Just leave a comment letting me know how you feel about getting Christmas catalogs this early, because ye gads, I already have a stack a foot high of my own!

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