Sunday, December 31, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 31

Well, my dears, the time has come to say goodbye to  2017.

Thank you for your support -- for buying the books, for reviewing, and even simply for telling your friends you enjoyed a story by Josh Lanyon. It's all very much appreciated.

ALSO a very big thank you to everyone who took part in this year's Advent Calendar. Not just those of you who contributed stories and art (although I'm so grateful and so appreciative of your generosity -- you guys are so talented. It's almost unnerving!) but also to those of you who simply participated by leaving comments or joining in the games.

The calendar is a way of saying Thank You to my readers, so there's really no need to participate -- most of the posts average between 800 - 1000 views, so I know people are seeing and enjoying the calendar -- but when so many other people contribute, I want them to know their work is being enjoyed and appreciated too, so it means a lot when someone takes the time to comment. :-) Thank you ALL very much.

I wish every single person who reads this message Health and Happiness in 2018.

From "The Passing of the Year" by Robert W. Service

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
     My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
     And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
     For we’ve been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
     There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 30

Wow! We are fast approaching the end of 2017. Not my best year, I must admit. Professionally, I struggled to produce. A LOT. By which I mean I struggled a lot to produce a little. Physically...ouch. Personally, thank God everything is still on an even keel. Philosophically, also struggling. A LOT. But I'm by nature optimistic and I'm counting on 2018 to be a better year in every way.

I'm a planner. I make lists. I outline. I journal. Like the explorers of old, I believe the best way to reach your destination is to chart your course. Of course, you can't plan for everything. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Or a grizzly bear attack. Or falling in love. Things happen. That's part of joy--and terror--of life.

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

Anyway, I'm one hundred percent in favor of, at the very least, keeping track of things, and to that end I'm giving away three very pretty journals from Peter Pauper Press. I'll randomly select three commenters to receive one of these lovely journals.

Give me three good reasons to look forward to 2018. And IT'S NOT 2017 cannot be one of the reasons. ;-)

I wish you all a 2018 where you can say with certainty, This was my best year yet. :-)


Our three winners are:


Please contact me through Facebook, Goodreads or my website with your mailing address!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 29

This morning we have the second half of Karan Kapszukiewicz's Advent calendar submission.

In case you missed the first part, Karan has put together a series of holiday dinners with clues in each photo as to which couple is enjoying which dinner.

Your possible dining companions are as follows:

1 - Rob and Adam (Winter Kill)

2 - Jesse and Rocky (Baby, it's Cold)

3 - Will and Taylor (The Dangerous Ground series)

4 - Septimus and Colin (The Darkling Thrush)

5 - Fraser and Drew (Mummy Dearest)

6 - Sean and Dan (The Dark Horse)

Correctly match the couple to the correct dining experience and I will arbitrarily select four people to win a signed print copy from the randomly scattered author's copies I have lying around here. :-)

(You can have the book signed and sent to someone else as a gift, if you like.)

Photo A

Photo B

Photo C

Photo D

Photo E

Photo F


This is actually funny (at least I hope so!) because I got the wrong answers when I tried to match up MY OWN DAMN CHARACTERS with the photos. :-D

Karan was kind enough to send a key which reads:

      A.  Mummy Dearest. Drew and Fraser, from the book and the coda. The cocoa id    from the coda, made with Peppermint Schnapps. Clues: Mummy ornament, candy dish with scary vampire face and peppermint candy shooters.
B. The White Knight. Sean and Dan. From the book. The food is laverbread and cockles that Sean remembers as the last thing he was talking about before he was knocked down the stairs. Clues: The charioteer statue for the movie, The Charioteer,  Sean was in Wales to film and the book of Welsh recipes, for foodie, Sean.

C. In Plain Sight. Nash and Glen. The book and the coda. The food is apple pie, because the night they first met, at a dinner, Nash said he knew by the time they both ate the apple pie, that Glen was gay. Clues: The ornament of Big Bear Lake, because the was the name of the lake where Glen like to take photos and the moose and reindeer ornaments, from Glen’s mother, who sent family ornaments to help them decorate their first tree together.

D. The Darkling Thrush. Colin and Septimus. From book and coda. Instead of the boars’ head feast from the coda, I went with the traditional Scottish breakfast from the book. Band white pudding, eggs, and porridge, but added the plum pudding from the coda. Clues: old books everywhere, from the book, and “rich tapestries” mentioned in the coda.

E. Lone Star. Mitch and Web. Both book and coda. The food is from the coda, with the recipe for chocolate cake and mascarpone cream at the end. Clues. The cookie tree made of stars, with one star shining brightly, and the reflection of a reindeer head on the side of the silver mixing bowl.

F. Dangerous Ground 2, Old Poison. Will and Taylor. The book only. The food is the meal they shared at the Red Dragon, Taylors favorite Japanese restaurant. Tea-smoked duck for Taylor, wild salmon for Will. The drinks were mai tais. Clues: A bottle of wine with a snake head label, for the bottle of snake wine Taylor received in the mail and the red dragon glasses that held the mai tais.

Oh my God. My apologies to everyone. So the only thing to do was to randomly choose four people from all the answers, and not worry about who got the answers right or wrong (given that I clearly have no clue anyway). 

My winners are:

Zoey Brouthers
Lori S.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 28

Johanna Ollila returns today with more teasers and more giveaways.

In these beautifully designed teasers, Johanna shares some of her favorite quotes from my stories.

Share your own favorite quote from any one of my books in the comment section below, and I'll pick three winners who will receive a magnet made from your choice of one of these teasers.

Teaser #1

Teaser #2

Teaser #3

Teaser #4

Teaser #5

Teaser #6

Teaser #7


Wow. You guys all picked such great quotes (some of them I don't even remember writing and some of them bring back the story and the moment so intensely to me).

Our winners are:

Ely Volpe

Contact me through Goodreads, Facebook or my website and we'll send your gift to you. :-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 27

Today's gorgeous offerings come from me dear friend Johanna Ollila. In addition to being a fabulously talented artist (and cover designer), Johanna is one of the wonderful mods on my FaceBook Page AND my Goodreads group. Yes, she an overachiever. But the very best kind.

Johanna came up with these gorgeous teasers which offer some of her favorite quotes from my stories.

Share your own favorite quote from any one of my books, and I'll pick three winners who will receive a magnet made from your choice of one of these teasers.

Teaser #1

Teaser #2

Teaser #3

Teaser #4

Teaser #5


I had to keep this of the close-your-eyes-and-point variety because inevitably you all picked lines that I'm kinda sorta proud of  myself. :-D

Our winners are:
Judy Stone

And we had one extra gift -- an Adrien English ornament. That goes to Sue.

Don't forget to contact me through Facebook, Goodreads or my website email!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 26

Yes, in theory the "Advent" calendar should be over, but we had so many offerings this year, that we're going to follow last year's tradition and continue until we run out (or we hit the New Year). :-)

Today's offering is from my lovely friend and talented cover artist Karan Kapszukiewicz. Karan has put together a series of holiday dinners with clues in each photo as to which couple is enjoying which dinner.

Your possible dining companions are as follows:

1 - Con and Wes (Everything I Know)
2 - Adrien and Jake (The Adrien English Mysteries)
3 - Archer and Rake (Green Glass Beads)
4 - Kai and Ryo (Blood Red Butterfly)
5 - Max and Swift (Come Unto These Yellow Sands)
6 - Noel and Robert (Icecapade)

Correctly match the couple to the correct dining experience and I will arbitrarily select four people to win a signed print copy from the randomly scattered author's copies I have lying around here. :-)

(You can have the book signed and sent to someone else as a gift, if you like.)

Photo A

Photo B

Photo C

Photo D

Photo E 

Photo F


It is embarrassing to admit that not only did I name the photos so that clicking on them revealed the couples they matched up to, I WAS WRONG IN SOME CASES. Yes. I guessed wrong about my OWN couples. :-D Yeesh. I mean, I could make an argument for my selections, but that was not the artist's intent, and we must honor artist intent, right? In other words, I'm an idiot.

Anyway, here's Karan's answer key with her reasons for CHOOSING WRONGLY. ;-D  I love her explanations. <3

A. Blood Red Butterfly. Kai and Ryo, from the coda in Holiday Codas 2. Where Kai decorated his home for Kenji, but then found out Kenji wasn’t going to be there on Christmas. No food in this one. Just the Japanese cocktail from the original story and Ryo’s drink, which was just a generic voldka soda. Clue: the red butterfly hanging around the neck of the deer.

B. Everything I know, Con and Wes, from the book and the coda. The coda mentions the casserole and gives the recipe. All the ornaments tell the story from the book. I considered them all clues. Sunshine and Cottage are for the name of Con’s school, glass rabbits for Con’s classroom pet, Roscoe. The pink tutu ornament and the little girl with the broken arm are for Lizzie, and the hard hat and the Lemon blossom ornament are for Wes. Lemon Blossom was the name of his mother’s nursing home.

C. Green Glass Beads. Archer and Rake, mostly from the coda. These are the treats and drinks mentioned in the coda when Rake came back after the cookie decorating party, when Archer thought he had lost him. The little tree in the middle of the picture is made from butter and honey cookies, like Archers’ favorite dessert from the bakery in Vancouver. Clue: green glass beads are sitting in the background

D. A Dangerous Thing, The Adrien English Mysteries 2. Jake and Adrien.  The food is for the grilled steak and baked potato Jake had fixed and waiting for Adrien when he arrived back at the ranch. Clues: The Red Rover wagon,  for the Red Rover mine, the LAPD Hot Wheels toy, the Native American grain grinding pestle, an Old Miners Nerver Die button, and a ornament with a picture of mountain scenery.

E. Come Unto These Yellow Sands. Max and Swift, all from the book. The food is the bacon quiche Swift fixes because he’s looking for a complicated recipe to take his mind off Max. He’s drinking wine at the time. Clues: A picture of an angel, like the angel with it’s sword held high, that Swift has in his home, and a lighthouse ornament.

F. Icecapades. Noel and Robert, from the book and the coda. The food is the biscuits and gravy Noel fixed the first morning after Robert found him. Clues: the Bailey’s, because Noel loves that in his coffee and the horse head ornament/candy cane, for Noel’s horses.

In all seriousness, the only logical thing is to simply randomly pick our three winners from everyone who participated, which leaves us with:


Don't forget to contact me through Goodreads, Facebook or my website email! 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 25

My Christmas wish for you: may the good you do throughout the year be returned to you ten-fold. And may love always find you, no matter where you hide. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 24

It's Christmas Eve!

Yes. Already!

And appropriately enough, today's offering is the classic Silly Symphony cartoon "The Night Before Christmas". I remember seeing this as a little kid on TV. It's delightful, and I really think you're going to enjoy it.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 23


We have another offering of fiction this morning. Haldis has outdone herself this year with a second scrumptious morsel of story.

I was going to mention that this takes place within the world of Lone Star... let's call it the prequel. ;-)

 Under a Lone Star

Marty gazed up at the lone star shining bright in the clear night sky and sighed.  How did he get himself into this situation? It wasn’t as if he had mixed all that much hot sauce into the red sprinkles on Toby’s sugar cookies. And Toby was acting like he was all hot stuff at the toy factory, so Marty felt the hot sauce was appropriate. Marty chuckled remembering the steam pouring out of Toby’s pointy ears after that first taste.  Unfortunately, Mr. Claus also sampled the cookies….And that’s how Marty found himself half a world away from his home in the North Pole chasing a randy reindeer across the cold, foreign landscape of Texas. Although he supposed as far as punishments went, it could be worse.

Marty heard the jingle jangle of bells and picked up his pace, jogging past odd prickly trees and short scrubby bushes. Twin lights to his right caught his attention and he realized he was approaching a roadway. And now Marty could see Blitzen trotting along on the other side.

“Blitzen!” called Marty.  “By Jack Frost’s nose, if you do not come here right now, I will eat your gingerbread!”

Blitzen looked back over his shoulder at Marty and made a questioning grunt.

“That’s right! Stop with these silly reindeer games right now, or else,” said Marty as he pulled a fragrantly wonderful cookie from his pouch. “I’m going to eat it. All of it.  Unless you come here this very second.”

The headlights were getting closer. He may have to wait until the vehicle went past hoping Blitzen wouldn’t take advantage of the distraction to keep on with his moseying, as the locals said. At least he thought that was what they said. He wasn’t sure. This was his first time in Texas. 

Across the roadway, Blitzen lifted his nose to sniff the air. He turned back around towards Marty and made another inquiring grunt. He stepped out on to the road.

“No, no, no, no,” said Marty, quickly waving his hands, trying to signal Blitzen to stay.  The car was too close.

Blitzen watched the gingerbread in Marty’s hand wave back and forth. He kept walking out into the middle of the road directly in front of the oncoming car. It swerved to avoid Blitzen, skidded, spun out, and away it flew like the down of a thistle…ok, no, it crashed and rolled like Santa’s sleigh after a couple of rowdy elves took it out for a joy ride during a particularly boisterous New Year’s Eve party.

“Good King Wenceslaus!” exclaimed Marty as he debated whether he should assist the human in the car. Blitzen had finally reached him and was nibbling at the gingerbread in his hand. Marty noticed more headlights coming down the road and decided it was best to leave humans to other humans. He grabbed Blitzen’s harness and pulled him further away from the road, bells jingle jangling all the way.

“I could really go for a double shot of peppermint,” muttered Marty to himself, as he tried to hide behind a crazy looking tree with Blitzen happily munching beside him.

Marty watched as the person from the wrecked car climbed up to the road. He appeared to be okay. The other car pulled over and a cowboy got out and approached. They were talking to each other, but Marty could not hear what they were saying. He could use his magic to get closer, see if there was any potential danger, but neither human even looked in his direction. Eventually the two got into the cowboy’s vehicle and drove off.

Marty waited until the red tail lights had disappeared into the distance before coming out from his hiding spot. Blitzen nuzzled his pouch, looking for more gingerbread.

“That was all I had, Blitz,” said Marty as he fondly rubbed Blitzen’s muzzle. “Let’s say we head home, get some more? Mrs. Claus promised a fresh batch as soon as we arrive.”

Blitzen tossed his head in affirmative and then positioned himself so Marty could scramble onto his back. He got a running start and leaped into the air, straight towards the lone star shining like a beacon in the night sky and Marty couldn’t stop himself from shouting, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

They were going home.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 22 MUSIC

Cold enough for you? ;-)

Today we have another selection from The Browne Sisters and George Cavanaugh's now out-of-print Christmas Traveler album for your holiday playlist.

This is called "Carol From an Irish Cabin," and as before, you just click here and the song will immediately begin to play. You should be able to download it too.

Carol From an Irish Cabin

The cold wind blows over the heather 
The salt wind blows over the sea 
The harsh wind blows down from the mountains 
And blows a white Christmas to me.

The clean snow falls softly, falls softly 
The snow crystals cover the moor 
Let wanderers lost and grown weary 
Find welcome at my cabin door. 

So let there be no fear of darkness. 
And let there be no fear of sea 
Let the star guide the lost and forsaken 
Safe over the moorlands to me.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 21

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today, a poem and a picture.

But first, you might find these ten facts about the Solstice of interest.

by Malamalama - licensed through Shutterstock

Winter Trees

William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details 
of the attiring and 
the disattiring are completed! 
A liquid moon 
moves gently among 
the long branches. 
Thus having prepared their buds 
against a sure winter 
the wise trees 
stand sleeping in the cold. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 20

Good morning, my dears! And God bless us every one. (Okay, okay. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.)  ;-)

Our talented and generous pal, Steve Leonard, was kind enough to contribute a second coda this year. This one from the Adrien English series -- and something many of you are always asking for -- a story told from Jake's POV!


So This Is Another Christmas A Jake & Adrien Christmas Coda

Old Pasadena was still bustling as I pulled up to Cloak and Dagger Books. Most of the stores lining the streets were still open and it looked like business was brisk even at this hour on Christmas Eve. Multi-colored lights twinkled merrily in shop windows and the street lights were ablaze in holiday colors.

I’ve always loved Christmas. This would be our second Christmas together and the first one – of many – in our own home. I smiled. I found myself doing that a lot lately.

“Sorry I’m late,” I apologized as I rushed into Adrien’s office. “I had to finish up the paperwork on the Costello case and take Scout for his walk and then make sure he and Tomkins were fed and…” He turned from where he was straightening a painting on the wall opposite his desk and gave me a long, appraising look. “What?” I asked, suddenly self-conscious. “Is my fly open or something?”

“No,” he laughed, his head falling back. His blue eyes lit up and he came over and kissed me hello. “I… You look great!”

I blushed. “Thank you. So do you.” I knew the trim gray trousers and fitted navy cashmere sweater I’d picked out were the right choice. He was wearing a purple sweater over a gray oxford, and black pants. So beautiful. He was always going to be the best looking guy in any room.

I nodded at the painting; a weathered, white church, steeple tall, framed by dark, storm-tossed skies. I liked it. “That’s nice. Is it new?”

He stood back to judge how straight it was. “Yes. I saw it when I was having brunch with Lisa a few weeks ago. It’s by a new artist: Perry Foster. He had an exhibition at the Thies/Goodman Gallery on East Union Street.”

“Hold on a second. Your mother came all the way to Pasadena to have lunch with you? What was the occasion? Or did she take a wrong turn?”

“Very funny,” he laughed, reaching out to give the painting a final tweak. “Leave my mother alone. She was here for the exhibit. One of her clubs sponsored it.”

“Okay, okay, sorry.” I looked at the picture again. “Wait... Did you say Perry Foster?”

“Yeah, why? Have you heard of him?”

“I think I know him.”

He gave me a squinty, side-eye look.

“Don’t look so shocked. I’ll have you know I’m not completely culturally deficient.”

He snorted. “Sorry. How do you know him?”

“If it’s the same guy – and how many painters named Perry Foster could there be in LA? – his boyfriend... well, partner I should say, is a PI I know named Nick Reno.”

“Nick Reno, Private Eye. Sounds like the name of a TV show. Is there a club or something all you PIs belong to? Did you meet him at one of your monthly PI meetings?”

I picked up the mug on his desk and gave it a sniff. “Have you been hitting the eggnog again?” He stuck out his tongue and blew me a raspberry. I chuckled. “Charming. I met him when I still a cop. He...” My voice trailed off as the memory stopped me cold.

“Yes? And?”

I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw him staring at me. I knew he could see the pained look on my face.

“Jake? What is it?”

I cleared my throat and continued, but my voice was hoarse. “It was during those… occult murders…”


“Christ. I wish I could just let the past go.”


Let's rub out those bad memories! 
“Because sometimes I still see you on the floor after I... And I... I...”

His mouth was suddenly on mine, kissing me and stopping my words. He held my face gently in both his hands, his thumbs softly stroking my cheeks and the corners of my eyes. When he drew back his eyes were fierce and shining.

“Listen.” His voice was firm as he locked his gaze on mine. “That’s the past. Gone. Ancient history.”

I nodded sharply and tried to look away.

“It is,” he insisted, turning my face back. He put his forehead to mine. “We’ve talked about this, Jake. What’s done is done. Over. I told you I forgave you a long time ago.

“I know,” I whispered with a shudder, smiling even as a tear slipped down my cheek. He kissed it away.

“I love you,” he said, wrapping his arms around me, holding me tight.

“I love you too.” I held him tighter, feeling the strong beating of his heart. I took comfort in his strength, resting in his arms until my breathing steadied and calmed.

There was a patter of feet coming down the stairs from the apartment above and Natalie poked her head into the office.

“Hey, lookie! Here’s Uncle Adrien and Uncle Jake!” She was holding the baby who was dressed in some ridiculously festooned getup.

“Aren’t you supposed to do that under the mistletoe?” Angus asked, sidling up to Natalie, a huge diaper bag slung over his shoulder.

I tossed him a look as Adrien and I slowly moved apart. “Aren’t you supposed to be locking up?” He smiled sheepishly and shrugged.

Adrien had a horrified look on his face. “Natalie! That poor baby’s going to be scarred for life with all these outfits you’re putting–”

“Oh hush, Adrien,” she interrupted, pulling the baby in closer. “You’re such a Grinch!”

“Yeah, Adrien,” I mimicked as Angus grinned and slipped out of the room. “‘You’re such a Grinch!’ You sound just like your mother.” 

He shot me an affronted look at the same time Natalie squeaked as she tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh. I smirked and took a step backward, holding my hands up to protest my innocence. He opened his mouth to say something but a familiar voice intervened. 

“Hello, hello!” Lisa trilled. Saved by the most unlikely source. I blew out a mock sigh of relief and Adrien poked me in the ribs just as Lisa and Bill poked their heads into the office. Angus was behind them.

“Darling, you’re not still open, are you? The front door of the shop was unlocked. Anybody could just stroll in.” I wasn’t sure, but I swear her gaze flicked to Angus once or twice.

She continued her lecture on safety, the inconvenience last minute shoppers placed on those wanting to enjoy their holidays, and whatever else was irking her at the moment – boy, the woman could talk – but suddenly switched gears when she spied the painting.

“Oh Adrien,” she fluttered, grasping his arm, “you didn’t tell me you bought it! Isn’t it exquisite? He’s such a talent!”

“Yes, in fact, Jake–”

“There’s my beautiful grandchild!” she interrupted, making a beeline for Natalie and the baby. Poor Natalie looked like a deer in the headlights.

“I think we’d all be more comfortable if we moved out of the office,” Bill suggested and he began to herd everybody out and into the store.

“Adrien, darling,” Lisa clamored as she took the baby from Natalie, “where did you get that beautiful gift basket? It’s enormous!”

“Candace and Benjamin Arbuckle sent it.”

“Oh, how lovely of them,” she cooed, leaning in to kiss the baby. “And so thoughtful.”

The Arbuckles were friends of Lisa and Bill, and Adrien had gone to school with their older son. Last Christmas their younger son had gone missing and they’d hired me to find him. Adrien and I found him, nearly dead, and we ended up saving his life. The family had been extremely grateful.

“We should head over to the restaurant soon,” Bill announced, tapping his watch.

“I can’t believe Emma volunteered to babysit Neal and Breanna’s kids,” Adrien said as he locked the door to his office.

“She’s turning into a real entrepreneur,” Bill remarked, beaming with pride.

“And Lauren?” Adrien asked.

“She’s meeting us at the restaurant with her new boyfriend,” Lisa said, her tone flat.

“He’s hardly new, dear,” Bill gently pointed out. “They’ve been dating since the end of summer.”

“Yes, I know,” she acquiesced. “I just hate to see her rush into anything. That Brad–”

“It’s best we not think about him,” Bill interrupted and Lisa looked up at him and smiled tightly.

“Bill, Lisa,” I said, taking their hands in mine. “Thank you, again, for inviting my family. It’s… You didn’t...”

Lisa pulled me in for a hug, surprising me. “Nonsense, Jake,” she said before she released me. “Your family is our family now.”

Bill put his hand on my shoulder and nodded. Then he took Lisa’s hand and kissed it. “Shall we?”


Dinner was in a private room at the Parkway Grill on South Arroyo. We stayed in Pasadena, relatively close to the bookstore so Natalie, Angus and the baby could make an early evening.

The room was surprisingly intimate and the dinner was great. Lisa went all out with the menu and decorations. It was elegant, but in an understated way, which was very much her style. I’d been worried that my mom and dad would feel out of their element, but after a stilted beginning, the conversation began to flow. Of course, that probably had as much to do with all the alcohol than anything else.


We said our good-byes and Merry Christmases on the sidewalk outside the restaurant – complete with hugs, kisses and handshakes – even though we’d be seeing everybody again in a few short hours.

“I think that went well,” Adrien said as we walked hand in hand to my car.

“Yes, but as much as I enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to a long winter’s night with you.”

He squeezed my hand. “Me too.”

My thumb brushed over the ring on the third finger of his left hand and I smiled. So many things in our lives had fallen into place over the past year. I looked heavenward, whispering a silent ‘thank you’ to acknowledge how blessed I knew I was. 

I let go of his hand and slipped my arm around him. He sighed and put his around me, pressing into me. This – this simple act between two people who loved one another – wasn’t something I could imagine doing a mere eighteen months ago.

I leaned in and kissed him. “This last year with you has been the best of my life.”

He pulled me closer. “Every year with you is the best year of my life.” I kissed him again.

We reached the car and I dug into the pocket of my coat for the keys. “I hope you’re okay to drive, because I’m pretty sure I’m not. Or I can call a cab.”

“I’m good,” he said, taking the keys and pressing the fob to unlock the doors. “My car will be fine at the store tonight. We can pick it up tomorrow.”


It was nearly 11:00 p.m. when we got back home. Adrien took Scout out to do his business while I leaned against the kitchen counter guzzling water under Tomkins’ scrutinizing watch.

“What are you looking at?” I groused.


“Don't you start on me,” I said as I refilled my glass.

He twitched his tail and meowed again.

“Ungrateful cat.”


“Whoah,” I said, as I made my way slowly up the stairs, holding onto the railing as I went. “Those Black Orchids really pack a punch. What did you say was in them?”

“Hmmm. Well, there’s raspberry vodka, Blue Curacao, Watermelon Pucker, and … oh yeah, a splash of cranberry juice.”

“God, are you trying to kill me?”

“Well, you didn’t have to have so many.”

“They’re like… drinking juice!” I sputtered. “And I swear, every time I looked down you were sliding me another.”

“I was?” he asked innocently.


“Hey, I didn’t see anybody twisting your arm,” he protested. I rolled my eyes.

“Between them and the Laphroaig – hell, I’m surprised I’m still on my feet.” I stopped and turned to him. “And please tell me I wasn’t walking like this when we were at the restaurant?”

“No, you were fine,” he assured me seriously, patting my back.

“Good. Because tomorrow’s going to be fun enough without your mother silently judging me.”

“She would never!”

“Uh-huh.” We both burst out laughing and then resumed the seemingly never ending journey up the stairs.

“You know, you’ve turned into a lightweight since you quit the force, Riordan,” he quipped, giving my butt a playful slap.

“Hey now,” I yelped. “You’re asking for it.”

He ran up the last couple of steps, spun around and flashed a big grin. “Promises, promises!”

He was in the bathroom when I finally made it to the bedroom. He’d lit the gas fireplace and turned on the lights to tree we’d set up. I sat down in one of the chairs to untie my shoes, overbalanced and nearly tumbled out of it. “Shit, I think I might be drunk.”

“Ya think?” he chuckled as he crossed from the bathroom into the closet.

“Easy now,” I growled, finally getting my shoes and socks off. I stood up and pulled my sweater and T-shirt over my head. “You know, you didn’t have to get me drunk to take advantage of me. I’m a sure thing.”

“I know, but it helps,” he said from the closet doorway. He was naked except for a Santa hat and a devilish smile, and was holding up two silk scarves and a white peacock feather. 

I gulped and felt a sudden stirring. “Oh baby!” I dove for the bed, shoving my slacks down as I went, but they got tangled around my ankles and I face-planted ungracefully on the bed. I bounced and rolled onto my back, legs flailing as I struggled to get my pants off. Then I began the fight with my briefs, cursing as the elastic waistband caught on my erection.

Adrien bit his lip trying to suppress a laugh as he walked toward me. “The question is though, have you been naughty or nice?”

“Who cares?” I gasped as I finally kicked free of my briefs, watching as they sailed over his head to land on the tree. “Merry Christmas to me!”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 19

It's a little disappointing there simply hasn't been time to write Christmas codas this year. Thank heavens for all the wonderful pinch hitters we have amongst you! There has been no shortage of delightful and heart-warming fiction this season.

Today I'm giving away two copies of All I Want for Christmas. Basically it's the print collection of (mostly) happy holiday memories for a lot of your favorite stories. They've been edited and a number of them have been expanded. In addition to all the codas written through last year, it's got a bunch of fun recipes for food and cocktails that tie in with the stories. It's a very nice extra for your Josh Lanyon collection!

So to be eligible for the random drawing you have to write the first paragraph of a holiday coda for your favorite Josh Lanyon couple. :-D

Come on! It'll be fun! It's good to get those creative juices flowing. It can be silly or serious or whatever. It's up to you. And who know, you might like your coda beginning so much that next year you finish it and contribute it to the calendar.

Hey, stranger things have happened!

I LOVED every single one of these coda beginnings. The dark and stormy starts, the judgmental reindeer, the fireside snuggles and midnight rescues and staycations, the nervousness and anticipation and delight...these were wonderful. :-)

Our two randomly selected winners are...

 Natasha and Jacquie Sawyer.

Don't forget to send me your mailing addresses, so I can get your books out to you!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 18

Brrr! Another chilly Monday morning because, regardless of the weather, it's a cold day in hell when you have to work during the holidays. (Okay, maybe I exaggerate.)

This morning we have something sweet and scrumptious from one of my favorite multi-talented peoplz, but I'll let Haldis do her own intro (since she actually went to the trouble to write one)!

When Josh announced she was opening up the advent calendar again this year, I had no clue what I would write…except that it would involve Mr. Pinkerton, of course. It was actually a picture from Josh’s post, a picture by Catherine Dair and a quote from I Spy Something Christmas…which brings me to Dickens…which brings me to a book…and cake…and then I decided we needed The Mysterious…and, well, you get the idea.
And then I decided to color (mostly in the lines) the semi corresponding picture by Johanna Ollila from Love is a Many-Colored Thing.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays,

 Mr. Pinkerton and the Christmas Cake

            Mr. Pinkerton slipped past a pair of booted legs into the sparkling warmth of Ye Olde Book Store. He quickly moved to the side, so as not to be trod upon, and shook off the flakes of snow that had landed on his fur during his sprint from Miss Butterwith’s cottage. He didn’t have time for a proper grooming so he hoped he would dry quickly in the cozy bookstore as the store was nearly full to capacity with many of the village’s residents and also quite a few people that Mr. Pinkerton did not recognize. Geoffrey, the store’s owner, had told Mr. Pinkerton there would be something very special at this year’s holiday party.
Look at the eyes on that thing!
                        Ye Olde Bookstore, always a very comfortable and inviting space, was all decked out for the Holidays with shiny baubles that, when he was younger, he liked to swat, and satiny ribbons that he would chew and pull and roll. But he was older and wiser now and did not engage in such activities. Much. Maybe once….or twice….a day. Anything more he left up to Kit, the resident bookstore cat.
            Speaking of the little Ginger Fury himself, Kit came up and touched his nose to Mr. Pinkerton’s in greeting. And now that he thought about, Kit wasn’t so little anymore. In fact, he had grown up to a rather impressive young cat.
            “Ah, Mr. Pinkerton,” greeted Geoffrey, as he grabbed a towel and started rubbing down Mr. Pinkerton. “We’ll get you cleaned up and then you and Kit can help me play host.”
            “Meow,” agreed Mr. Pinkerton. With the gentle rub-down he was getting, Mr. Pinkerton most likely would agree to anything. He purred and leaned into Geoffrey’s touch.
            “Alright, you two, which one of you wants to ride on my shoulder?” asked Geoffrey
            Mr. Pinkerton, after a glance to Kit to make sure of no objections, sprang up to Geoffrey’s shoulder, being careful not to stick his claws into Geoffrey’s soft knitted jumper. Together they made the rounds greeting several residents before, at last, coming upon one of the visitors.
            “Mr. Winter, welcome! We are so very honored to have you and Professor Crisparkle here tonight,” said Geoffrey
            “Please, call me James,” said Mr. Winter. He gave Mr. Pinkerton a wary once over, but then looked back to Geoffrey.  “You have a lovely store Mr. Alleyn.”
            Who’s Mr. Alleyn? thought Mr. Pinkerton.
            “Oh, please, call me Geoffrey,” answered Geoffrey, apparently also Mr. Alleyn. Mr. Pinkerton found it strange the number of names that humans went by. Even after a year, Mr. Pinkerton still wasn’t used to Geoffrey calling Inspector Appleby ‘Andrew’.
            Soon Geoffrey and Mr. Winter were off on a rather lively and enthusiastic discussion about rare books and Mr. Pinkerton was nearly dislodged from his perch and decided it was probably best to seek a safer vantage point.
He jumped down on to a row of low bookshelves, stopping to sample a sip of eggnog out of an unattended tumbler, and just a small taste of cake on the plate beside it before  surveying the crowd. Kit was busy being the center of attention with Miss Butterwith and Mrs. Fox from down the lane. Inspector Appleby was in a discussion with a tall silver-haired man and a shorter darker-haired man. Mr. Pinkerton leapt across two bookcases to join them just as two other men, one blond and stocky, the other a little taller with glasses, approached Inspector Appleby.
            “Fraser Fortune, from The Mysterious” said the blond man, holding out a hand to Inspector Appleby. “I was hoping for a word with you, Inspector.
            “Uh, the mysterious what?” asked Inspector Appleby, shaking Fraser Fortune’s hand.
            The man with Fraser Fortune snorted.
            “This is my partner, Drew,” said Fraser Fortune, while glaring at Drew, though it looked like he was trying not to laugh.
 “Ah yes, The Mysterious. I have watched your show, Mr. Fortune,” said the silvered haired man. He had an accent form the Southern United States, as soft and smooth as cream. He held his hand out to Frasier Fortune. “I’m Stephen, and this is my boyfriend, Mark.”
“Nice to meet you both, and please, call me Fraser,” said Fraser Fortune.
“So Frasier,” asked Mark. “Are you here tonight hoping to get a glimpse of the Ghost of Christmas Past, or perhaps of Christmas Yet to Come?” He had a certain glint in his eye, like a hunter, thought Mr. Pinkerton. Very like a cat.
“Well, actually no,” answered Fraser. He looked a bit sheepish.
“We’re here about a crime solving cat and a botanist. We were hoping for an interview,” said Drew and he grinned over at Fraser. “
 “I’m sure Mr. Pinkerton would give you an interview,” said Inspector Appleby
“Mr. Pinkerton? I’m guessing he’s the botanist?” asked Fraser.
“No,” stated Inspector Appleby. “He’s the cat. What do you think, Mr. Pinkerton?”
“Meow,” agreed Mr. Pinkerton. He was feeling particularly agreeable this evening. Perhaps it was the friendly, festive atmosphere of the gathering. Then again, maybe it was the spiked eggnog.
            Inspector Appleby leaned in close to Mr. Pinkerton and whispered, rather loudly, “You’ve got a bit of cake in your whiskers, Mr. Pinkerton.”
            Mr. Pinkerton gave a quick lick to his paw and a hasty swipe down his face hoping he dislodged the errant crumb and then turned his attention back to Fraser Fortune.
            “Meow,” greeted Mr. Pinkerton.
 “Uh…..” said Fraser, staring open-mouthed at Mr. Pinkerton.
Well, thought Mr. Pinkerton, this was going to be an engaging interview.
Fraser Fortune continued to stare at Mr. Pinkerton.
Mr. Pinkerton stared back at Fraser Fortune.
“What’s the matter, dear?” whispered Drew to Fraser Fortune. “Never interviewed a crime-solving cat before?”
Fraser Fortune turned his glare on Drew, but Mr. Pinkerton could see the fond smile that played on his lips.
“Well, at least it’s not an ocelot,” said Mr. Winter, who approached from the side with Geoffrey.
“We’re ready to start the reading,” said Geoffrey, before anyone could ask about the ocelot. “You sure you don’t want to do it?” Geoffrey asked Mr. Winter.
“Oh, no, Sedge is much better at that kind of thing,” answered Mr. Winter.
Geoffrey moved over to where a man sat in a high back chair with a red leather book in his lap.
“Good evening, everyone,” called Geoffrey. “It’s the moment we have all been waiting for.” Geoffrey grinned at the crowd. “I’ve always wanted to say that. It is my honor to introduce Professor Sedgewick Crisparkle and the reading of The Christmas Cake.”  Geoffrey clapped with the rest of the audience as he stepped away and rejoined Inspector Appleby.
“The Christmas Cake, by Charles Dickens,” read Professor Sedgewick Crisparkle in a warm clear voice. He opened the book, turned a page. “Our story begins with a fallen star. But the star is not the story,”
Mr. Pinkerton settled in to listen to the story as Kit came and curled up next to him. Miss Butterwith joined him and absently started stroking his fur as she listened to Professor Sedgwick Crisparkle. Mr. Pinkerton began to purr. With Kit next to him, his favorite person standing to one side, and Inspector Appleby and Geoffrey on the other, and surrounded by all of his friends, both old and new, Mr. Pinkerton could not have asked for a better Christmas and he thought of the words of another Dickens story that Miss Butterwith had read to him.
God bless us, every one!