Yuletide

So I’m not gonna lie; I had no idea what to write for today’s post. It’s probably the stress of waiting for next week to see what’s going to happen in the world. But. We’ve agreed not to get political on here, so that leave me wondering what the holly to write.

We’re ten days away from Christmas Eve, so I guess I should be talking about something holiday related, right?

This week I was very excited to join The Young Podawans on their episode talking about the various creepy Santa Claus’–giving a little extra time to my favorite: Krampus. If you’ve got time, I really hope you’ll check out the episode.

Speaking of Krampus, I have my own story featuring the grinning devil as the Big Bad. The third book in my Matilda Kavanagh Series: Yuletide. The story is episodic enough that, if you haven’t read the first two, I don’t think you’d be lost if you wanted to pick up a creepy and fun Christmastime read. It explores the crazy scene of the Krampus Los Angeles Fest while giving a moment to wonder what has become of the demigod. I also try to shed some light on some of our appropriated holiday traditions, so hopefully it’s entertaining and informative and funny and creepy all at once!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks

yuletide

If you think you might want to pick it up, here’s a little taste featuring our favorite witch explaining the real tradition behind “kissing” under the mistletoe…

Copyright Shauna Granger 2014

“Something was happening behind the bank of registers, but I couldn’t tell what. I leaned forward to hear what they were tittering about, but then a man stepped in front of me, so close that he popped my bubble of personal space. He looked human enough in his tennis shoes, jeans, and grey Black Witch White Magic T-shirt. But looks were deceiving. His aura pulsed against mine so that my senses were filled with the feeling of open spaces, the scent of bark and grass, and the warmth of sunshine. But under all that was the push of primal, animalistic allure. Tree nymph.

I jerked back and hissed, “Toads!”

“Well,” he said, dragging the word out with a waggle of eyebrows. “What do you say to a little Yuletide cheer?” He leered at me, leaning in and giving his head a shake so that bells jingled overhead.

I looked up, feeling my face pull in a grimace as I eyed the mistletoe and bells attached to his Santa hat by a thin wire. “Oh good gods.” I leaned back, almost touching the guy in line behind me as I tried to put some space between me and the randy nymph.

“Whaddya say? Bet a pretty little witch like you could really renew my Christmas spirit.”

He winked at me, and I felt as though I was trapped in some sort of cheesy vaudeville act. Even the bouncy version of “Mr. Heatmiser” overhead added to the surreal moment. The nymph wiggled his hips to make the bells jingle again, and I knew he wasn’t asking for a kiss.

“Seriously? You think it’s okay to talk to women like that? Beat it, creep,” I said with a flick of my fingers, zapping him with a controlled flash of power.

It snapped at his face, making him yelp and jump back. A hand flew to his face as if I’d slapped him. I kinda wished I had.

“There are kids around here, for the love of frogs!” I pointed at the crying child and her mother, who was now sitting on the floor with her, defeated.

“Take it easy,” he said, all good humor gone from his face and voice. “Just a little joke.”

“Yeah, real funny.” I threatened him with another jolt of power, but he turned and ran before I could zap him. I heard a snicker behind me, and I looked over my shoulder to see a guy with just one small box in his hand.

“Sorry,” he said, putting up his empty hand in surrender. “But why did you say there were kids around? I know he was being gross, but it’s just a kiss.”

I eyed him for a moment, letting my aura touch his. He was just a human on the supernatural side of town. “It’s not, though.”

“How’s that?”

“Humans think it’s just a quick, innocent kiss, but really the tradition is a lot more…” I paused to think of the right word. “Uh, graphic, if you get my meaning.”

He furrowed his brow, so I lifted mine, giving him a pointed look. His eyes went wide and I knew he got what I meant.

“Wait, you mean…?”

“Down and dirty,” I said with a nod. “In front of people usually.”

“Whoa.”

“Right.” I bent over to pick up my items, seeing a register clearing.

I watched the guy’s eyes dart over to a display of joke mistletoe items. Some were innocent enough, like the cheesy Santa hat the nymph wore, but others were less discreet, like the ones that hooked onto a belt buckle so the mistletoe hung right in front of…

“Happy holidays!” I said, overly cheery, as I walked away from the dumbstruck human.”

Between the Sheets #romance #newrelease

Between the Sheets_highres cover

So apparently we’re having an unofficial smut month here on the Spellbound Scribes, thanks to Kristin & Emmie. (Emmie’s post will be up later in the week. I peeked. It’s good.) Since this is the release day for my novella Between the Sheets, what could I do but play along? (And the title refers to sheet music, y’all. Get your minds out of the gutter!)

Heh.

Now, Between the Sheets is a little different than most contemporary romances, because instead of being billionaires or Navy SEALs or desperately underloved high-fashion models, the main characters are music teachers. Maggie teaches grade school kids the basics of music theory – when she’s not trying to keep the kindergartners from peeing on the carpet. Randy (aka the Ginger God) can rock the house when he’s on stage with his blues band, but his main gig is teaching high school students to play in tune. The two of them go to a weekend-long teachers retreat, and while they don’t start out to fall in love, well, it wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t, right?

I wrote about music teachers because most of the important people in my life are musicians, and some of the most influential teachers I know teach music. Between the Sheets is my (slightly naughty) love letter to all of them.

Here’s a short(ish) excerpt…Maggie & her BFF Krista are at the opening night dinner…and fyi, P. Kirk Ringdahl is NOT the one Maggie falls for…

Once everyone was seated, Kirk stood to give Professor Baumgartner an unnecessarily long introduction to the soundtrack of clanking silver and scraping plates. Most of the people in the room were UW graduates and already knew the professor, but we all smiled and applauded as Kirk spoke. He planted himself behind me, resting a hand on my shoulder, and after shifting in my seat, trying to shake it off, I gave up. Krista only shrugged and ignored me, like she thought a P. Kirk hookup was a done deal. Then I noticed the Ginger God seated at a table across from me.

Looking in my direction.

But not at my eyes.

He slouched in his chair, arms crossed as he gazed south of my shoulders, in the general direction of my breasts. My cheeks got warm and, even more embarrassing, my nipples got hard.

He smiled slowly, as if he noticed the last bit even from across the room, and his gaze traveled up even slower, peeling off my halter top on the way. His attention felt way too intimate for a room full of more than two hundred people. I shifted in my seat again, trying to ignore the burst of heat between my legs.

My independent streak started screaming about arrogance and invasion of privacy and inappropriate behavior. Whatever. My fingers twitched, ready to trace his Celtic tat and go exploring under his soft green T-shirt. For the first time in five years, three months, and five days, I wanted to be alone in a room with a man when he had that look in his eye.

Instead of listening to an illuminating debate on the possible applications of world music pedagogy compared with Dalcroze and Kodaly, I imagined how a Sex Diva would handle the situation.

And desperately wished the Cosmo article had some tips on cross-room eye sex.

The meal could well have been composed of sawdust and turpentine. The Ginger God’s attention shifted when the servers started plunking dessert on the tables, leaving me chilled, like someone had just pulled the covers off me in bed. Krista was too absorbed in an exchange of text messages to talk, and Jessica and the Sues rose in a block. I followed close behind and made a break for the door.

Kirk caught me in the lobby, but as I was stumbling through some half-assed excuse about why I couldn’t walk with him, a warm body pressed against my back and strong arms wrapped around my waist. Jerking my head to the side, I managed to plant my mouth on someone’s waiting lips.

Warm. Soft. Tasting of savory man and smoke. I should have done something to escape, except he held me and turned me and pulled me closer. And kissing the Ginger God beat the high holy hell out of dealing with P. Kirk Ringdahl.

Hope you liked that little teaser. Keep reading for the blurb & the buy links at the end. It’s a steal at only $0.99!!

Life for music teacher Maggie Schafer has been full of flat notes lately. Sick of being single and celibate, she vows to get her groove back at the upcoming Western Washington Choral Directors Annual Retreat.

Too bad the only guy who seems interested is a pompous dork who thinks he’s God’s gift to women—and the music education world. When he gets a little too arrogant and crosses boundaries, gorgeous pianist Randy Devers swoops in to run interference. After sharing a shockingly hot kiss in front of the whole conference, Maggie and Randy come up with a plan to pretend they’re dating.

However, the more time they spend together—and the more physical their “pretend” relationship gets—the more she wonders if there could be anything beyond just smoking chemistry and a friendly agreement between them.

Maggie’s got history, Randy’s got baggage, and they’ve got a weekend to get their rhythms in sync and figure out how to turn their solo lives into a beautiful duet.

Crimson Romance (http://www.adamsmediastore.com/between-the-sheets)

Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22731244-between-the-sheets)

Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/between-the-sheets-liv-rancourt/1120082650?ean=9781440584855&itm=1&usri=9781440584855&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201)

Kobo (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/between-the-sheets-29)

Google (http://books.google.com/books/about/Between_the_Sheets.html?id=t98-BAAAQBAJ)

Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Between-Sheets-Liv-Rancourt-ebook/dp/B00N0Y5WV0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409115949&sr=8-2&keywords=Liv+rancourt)

Excerpt time!

Happy Thursday everyone! Look, you can just see the weekend coming up over the horizon! Hold on for a few more hours and it’ll all be over.

Today I’m sharing with you an excerpt from one of the manuscripts I’ve been working on this year. This one is near and dear to me and I have a lot of high hopes for it. The other day I called on my FB followers to call out random page numbers for me to pick an excerpt from and I was more than impressed with the enthusiasm and how so many of the choices landed on, what I think are some awesome scenes.

So here goes. The winning page number was 225 provided by Patricia Davis! No intro, I’m just gonna throw you into the deep end and hope you enjoy!

2300(ish) word excerpt from: Wytchcraft (working title) – Copyright Shauna Granger 2013

It looked like any other dive bar in any other neighborhood in the world. Dimly lit so you didn’t see just how grimy the floors and tables were. Tiny candles flickered on the round tables around the room. A couple of worn pool tables stood in one corner and dartboards hung in another. Booths lined one wall while a long bar took up another. Two bartenders worked the bar and the crowded stools in front of them with waitresses coming and going with tiny round trays like mini shields full of glasses.

The only thing that set this bar apart from any other was the number of vampires lurking around every corner. They were in the booths along the wall, cloistered with their prey, they were leaning on the bar, flashing cheesy fanged smiles at the humans milling around them. They were everywhere and if you took a deep enough breath you could taste the tang of iron in the air. I shivered, trying to shake off the creeping crawling sensation this place gave me.

“Kinda creepy, right?” Ronnie whispered to me, but despite her lowered voice a few glinting pairs of eyes turned our way. I averted my eyes, not wanting to invite any of them over to us.

“Yeah, kinda creepy,” I agreed, keeping my voice low as well. The vamps could glare all they wanted, we were whispering so the humans couldn’t hear us, we weren’t fang blocking them or anything.

“So, do you want to get a drink or something?” Ronnie asked.

“Not even a little bit,” I said. “I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”

“Right,” Ronnie nodded, but when I looked at her face I realized she wasn’t looking at me, she was watching some of the more open couples in the booths. There were couples and groups huddled together, a mixture of vampires and humans. One such couple, a female vampire and a male human, were twisted around each other on a bench seat, the woman had the man’s wrist clamped to her mouth, not even the tiniest of trickles escaping her hungry lips. His head was thrown back, his eyes fluttering closed and his lips parted in a moan.

“Ron, you okay?” I leaned into Ronnie, tugging on her arm.

“Yes,” she said slowly, pronouncing the word carefully. “Yes, we should move on.” She turned us away from the sights and sounds of the room around us. Ronnie had never been with a vampire, never felt the sweet sting of their bite, it was normal to be curious and I was definitely not one to judge in this instance.

There was a huge arch in the back wall leading to a sunken room that, at this distance, looked like it was completely pitch black. That was the room I was looking for: the opium den.

“Ready? Ronnie asked.

“No,” I said, but I lead the way forward anyway. There were no guards at the entrance, no one checking anyone for weapons or ID, but I guess if you made it into the bar, you were allowed to come and go through the rooms as you pleased.

When we passed under the arch I felt a ripple of power pass over us, it was cool and soothing, like walking through a gentle waterfall. Ronnie turned surprised eyes to me, but I only shrugged. I figured it was some sort of charm to keep the vapors and smoke inside this room and out of the rest of the bar because once inside here I realized how difficult it was to see.

Claro,” I whispered and suddenly it was easier to see. Ronnie repeated the charm under her breath so she could see just as well.

There were huge cushions strewn about the floor and fainting couches set all along the walls. There were bodies lying everywhere, it almost looked like a mass suicide. I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to get that thought out of my mind. When I opened my eyes again I could focus on the moving parts of the room. People were lounging next to their pipes, smoking and passing them along to the next person.

Soft music filled the room and went a long way towards calming my nerves. Only Ronnie’s clutching fingers in my arm kept me on edge.

“Be careful not to touch anyone,” I reminded Ronnie in a whisper. Psychics could control their visions for the most part, but when surrounded by too many people or were touched, the visions took over. After too many years of seeing too many people’s fates, murders, pain and suffering, they either checked out of society and became hermits or their minds would snap. Many a middle-aged psychic lived in assisted-living complexes.

“May I help you?” a woman asked, appearing in front of us through the vapors and smoke. She was dressed in traditional Kabuki robes and makeup. Her pitch black hair was rolled and pinned artfully on top of her head with a jeweled hair comb. Her face was paper white, making the red lipstick stand out on her face even in the poor lighting.

“I, uh,” I stumbled, not really sure how to answer her.

“Can I show you to a seat?” she half turned, holding out one hand to guide us. Ronnie started to take a step, but I stopped her. I wasn’t interested in smoking and I had no idea how much something like that would cost anyway.

“No,” I said, “we were looking for someone.”

“Whom are you looking for?” the hostess asked, making me stumble again. Who were we looking for? Anyone who would help us I guess. We’d come to a place where psychics went to get away from their visions and here we were hoping one of them would be willing to help us find Roane. Roane, who was being held captive, possibly tortured. Yeah, I’m sure anyone of these people would jump at the chance to help us.

“We needed the help of a psychic,” Ronnie said, stepping forward to answer the question. I cringed at the look on the woman’s face. She looked ready to pull her hair comb out and stab us in the eye.

“My patrons do not come here to be bothered by tourists,” she snapped, stepping toward us again, pushing into our personal space to herd us back through the archway.

“We’re not tourists,” I said, holding my ground. “We just need help.”

“I suggest you look elsewhere, now go,” she pointed a perfectly manicured finger over my shoulder.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said quickly, “but two men’s lives are at stake and I’m desperate. I’m running out of time and I didn’t know where else to go.”

Before the Wave many psychics had shops where they read palms and cards for humans because few enough people believed in them that they could manage the number of customers they received., but once we were all out of the closet humans realized that psychics were just as real as the rest of us and suddenly their quaint little shops were overrun with humans looking for winning lottery numbers, begging to speak to their passed loved ones and any other life altering request you could think of. Within ten years of the Wave most shops had been shut down. Now it was very difficult to find a shop with a legitimate psychic running it and not some human, witch or warlock pretending to be a psychic to scam innocent customers out of their hard earned money.

Now psychics were just trying to assimilate into society as best they could. Many of them worked from home, hell most telemarketers that call and interrupt your dinner are psychics, just trying to earn a living while staying away from the populace. They were often erratic and difficult to talk to so I mostly stayed away from them and just depended on my own castings for answers to questions I had.

“Please,” I said again, reaching out a hand to touch the woman, but before my fingers touched her she roared, her face contorting from the porcelain perfection to a lined and aged face. Her mouth split open into a gaping maw full of needlelike teeth and she lunged at us.

“Get out,” she snarled, her back hunching over and her manicured nails turning into stained claws as she tried to swipe at us. I fell back into Ronnie, stumbling over the step and nearly sending us to the floor.

“Onibaba,” Ronnie hissed, scrambling back and pulling me with her. I could feel the edge of the curtain separating the bar and the den.

“Wait,” a lazy voice called out, catching all of our attention. I watched at the woman’s face melted back into the perfect mask of beauty before she turned to face the man who spoke.

He was lounging on the floor, a pipe held in one hand. His head was dropped back so that he was staring at the ceiling as he expelled a stream of white smoke. Ronnie pushed me forward to help me back to my feet and off of her. I straightened my jacket, tucking my hair behind my ears before taking a step forward. The Onibaba hissed at me as I walked by, but I kept my shoulders straight and refused to look at her.

“Excuse me?” I said when I stood close enough to the man that he could hear me whisper.

“Sit,” he said, waving a hand at the cushions scattered around him. There were two other people with him, a man and a woman. The woman’s head was resting on his thigh and he dropped his empty hand to toy with her curly brown hair. The second man was lying on the floor, not touching anyone or anything, not even using a pillow to cushion his head. His eyes were wide open and glazed over, a strange smile tugging at his lips, making his cheek twitch.

I glanced over my shoulder at Ronnie; she was staring at the man on the floor, watching his cheek jump. I wondered how much opium he’d had already – too much by the looks of it. I took a breath and crossed my ankles before lowering myself to sit on the floor. I had to reach up and tug on Ronnie’s hand to get her to sit next to me, finally blinking and tearing her eyes away from the man.

“You’re looking for help,” the man said, not making it a question, but if he’d heard me pleading with the demon then it wasn’t that impressive.

“Yes,” I said as I reached into my pocket to dig out Roane’s ring.

“There is a man missing,” he said. Wrapping his lips around the pipe and took three quick puffs, holding the vapors in for a moment before passing the pipe to the woman on his thigh. “His life is in danger,” he went on, expelling the smoke.

“Look, guy,” I said, cutting him off as my temper started to rise. “You heard me say all that right over there.” I jabbed a thumb over my shoulder. “You’re not fooling me alright? I’m not some two bit human fresh off the bus. If you’re just gonna waste my fucking time, we’ll be on our way.” I tapped Ronnie on the knee and started to get to my feet. The couple started to snicker, making me pause to glare at them. I shook my head at them and stood.

“Wait, wait,” he said, pushing up on his elbows to look up at me. “I’m sorry, please, sit.”

“I’m good, thanks,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Here,” he dug into his pants pocket until he came out with a black leather wallet. “Go see my friend,” he said as he dug through the many creased business cards until he found the one he was looking for. He held the white card out to me.

“Your friend huh?” I asked, arching a brow at him. “Is he as helpful as you are?”

“I said I was sorry,” he said, glaring at me, “do you want the help or not?”

“I do.”

“Then go see my friend, tell him Micha sent you.” He held the card out for me, waving it in his impatience. I glanced at Ronnie again, but she just shrugged at me, leaving it up to me to decide. With a sigh I reached out and took the card, my fingers grazing Micha’s as I did so.

Micha’s eyes went wide and his body shook before his back arched. His fingers grasped at mine as the vision took him. My body went cold as I watched him convulse on the floor and I had to wrench my hand free of his to stop it. Clutching my hand to my chest I stepped back to place my body against Ronnie’s.

The woman scrambled to Micha’s head, putting it in her lap and brushing her fingers over his sweaty forehead, making soft, soothing noises. She spared me an evil look and I knew, she wanted to hit me, throw me from this place to make up for what I’d just put her man through.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, shaking my head. I could still feel the shivers running over my body like millions of invisible ants racing over my skin.

“Just go,” she hissed at me.

“Be careful,” Micha rasped, stopping me a second time. I turned and looked at him; his eyes were open, but distant, like he was looking through me. “She is watching; she is waiting.” Then his eyes fell closed and he passed out in the girl’s lap, his body going limp.