Friday, 25 December 2015

New Lease of Life - Release Day

My new novel New Lease of Life is out today.

Despite its release date New Lease of Life isn't a Christmas story. It doesn't even take place in December. But the ideals of Christmas can be found within its pages: giving, forgiveness, and extending a helping hand to a stranger. There may not be snow on the ground or sleigh bells in the air but hopefully this story will leave you with the same feels as the best Christmas stories.

 photo NewLeaseofLifeFS_zps8hfua7ry.jpg
Cover by Paul Richmond
Blurb

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalized not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humor too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again. With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.


It's available now (yes, you can now get your sticky paws on it) at.

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
AllRomance ebooks
Kobo


It's also available in paperback.

New Lease of Life








Y and Z are for

Y is for Yule Log

I know not why it came into being--actually I have a vague inkling and with some research I could find out for you--and today I don't really care. All I'm going to do is cut myself a huge slice of that chocolatey goodness and sit back and relax.


Z is for zzzzzzzzz

Because I'm just knackered. 

Next time I think it's a good idea to do 25 continuous post remind me how time consuming it is and how little writing I actually get to do!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

X is for

X-cited (and a little nervous)

Tomorrow is release day for New Lease of Life.

 photo NewLeaseofLifeFS_zps8hfua7ry.jpg
Cover by Paul Richmond
Blurb

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalized not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humor too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again. With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.


It's available now to pre-order.

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
AllRomance ebooks
Kobo


Don't forget I'll be over at the Dreamspinner Blog on 27th December.

Oh yeah and it's Christmas too.

One more sleep!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

W is for

Wishes


Chalk Peace on Earth
By Visitor7 (Own work)
 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Peace on earth and goodwill to all men. That's a biggie, though.

Some good vibes for New Lease of Life, maybe:

A silver star at ARe
Some decent reviews.
A few new readers.
A top 100 placing in gay romance at Amazon.

I have RL wishes too, but I'll not go into those here. Needless to say I want only good health and happiness for all my family and friends. And to all of you who know me as Lillian Francis, whether in person or via pages in a book or my blog posts, I wish you all good health and happiness too.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

V is for

Vixen

1864 VisitFromStNicholas Prang
By Prang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Another scary Santa
and Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.

So we've already established that Santa used to arrive on a donkey before he upgraded to a fleet of magical reindeer and a sleigh. We also know that they are likely to be girl reindeer. And that they fly (or at the least float--remember the air trapped between fur and skin). But where did they get their names?








Louis Bernard Nute divant Noyé
Much more like the Santa we are used to seeing.
Although the moon looks kinda scary in this one.








They first appeared in 1823 in the poem 'A Visit from St Nicholas' which later became '('Twas) The Night Before Christmas'. In the original version Donner and Blitzen were called Dunder and Blixem, which was Dutch for Thunder and Lightning. It appears that over the years these names have morphed into the ones we have now but nobody can say quite when (or why) that happened. One theory is that the names were changed to the German for thunder and lightning, which is donner and blitz, thereby becoming Donner and Blitzen. They were certainly named as such by the time the story of Rudolph came into being in 1939.

Monday, 21 December 2015

U is for...

Umm

Okay I've got to admit this one has me at a loss. I thought it would be Z that screwed me over (not least because I'll have run out of days).

Unwrap

Undressing 7 - Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto, August 19 2014
By G.dallorto (Own work) [Attribution],
via Wikimedia Commons
Hah! See, knew something would come to me if I sat here long enough. Although what I'm going to write about unwrapping I haven't a clue.

Are you a peeler?




Book20009
By Sara-Paceni (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons











  Or a ripper?




Do you struggle wrapping presents?

I must confess to preferring gift bags these days. The initial outlay may be more expensive but at least they can be used to carry gifts home. And I'm not ashamed to admit to reusing any that I receive. My sister and I often play a game of reuse the gift bag, sending the same one back and forth until it is no longer suitable for its purpose. That's saving the environment, people, not 'oh shit I forgot the wrapping paper!'

And I'll leave you with one of my favourite holiday reads of last year.

Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton

Sloane loves a good mystery. He grew up as the son of two psychiatrists, so he finds most people tediously easy to figure out. He finds his way to Pennsylvania State University, longing for a rural experience, and ends up being lured into joining a frat by Micah Springfield, the hippest guy on campus.

Nothing in Sloane’s classes is as intriguing as Hank Springfield, Micah’s brother and fellow frat house member. Hank looks like a tough guy—big muscles, tatts, and a beard—but his eyes are soft and sweet. He acts dumb, but he’s a philosophy major. He’s presumably straight, but then why does Sloane feel such crazy chemistry whenever Hank is around? And why does Hank hate Sloane so much?

When Sloane ends up stuck on campus over Christmas, Micah invites him to spend the holidays at their family farm in Amish country. It’s a chance to experience a true Americana Christmas--and further investigate the mystery that is Hank Springfield. Can Sloane unlock the secrets of this family and unwrap the heart hidden inside the beefcake? 


I gave this five stars and a squee-induced review that is of little help to anyone wanting any factual information. It's cute, funny, full of holiday spirit. *Side-eyes the pile of holiday reads still waiting on Kindle* Really want to read it again.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

T is for

Terror


 photo NewLeaseofLifeFS_zps8hfua7ry.jpg
Cover by Paul Richmond
Yes indeed, as I realise that today is the twentieth. 

That means only five days until the big day. Yes, the 25th December and the release of New Lease of Life.

I got the blog post finished for my appearance on the Dreamspinner blog. I'm over there on the 27th, not release day, because apparently I'm clashing with some minor celebration and I will probably be too stuffed to move anyway. I'll stick a link in here so you know where to find me. 

and Tours

I've not arranged a blog release tour as yet. The whole 'coinciding with a major holiday' issue has thrown my planning for a loop. I'm hoping to organise something for January though so watch this space.




For anyone who has missed my previous posts and wants to know more about New Lease of Life, here's some details. 

There’s a fine line between independence and isolation.

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalized not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humor too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again. With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.

Available to pre-order.

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
AllRomance ebooks
Kobo

Also available in paperback.


As for that other celebration on the 25th, I'm still not ready. There are still presents to buy and wrap and a couple of cards that didn't make the post box because I ran out of stamps. But the tree is up and there are mince pies in the cupboard, so things aren't too dire.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

S is for

Smutty.
 photo whenlovefluein_800_zps5dcaa93f.jpg
Rarely used tagline for my Christmas novella, When Love Flue In.

"Santa's not the only thing coming down Dominic's chimney this Christmas."


To check out the blurb and reviews click here.







and snowman

To continue with the theme here's a smutty Christmas song from those crazy Yogscast guys.

Don't click if you are easily offended. (What the hell are you doing here?)







NB. I had considered the story of Santa but this has been done to death and anyway there is a lovely little retelling of this story in Clare London's Nice and Snow.


Friday, 18 December 2015

R is for

Reindeer
Santa and his reindeer
By unknown, authors Ellis Town, Sophie May, and Ella Farman 
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I have to say I'm worried by both Santa and these reindeer. 
I fear for this child's safety


Reindeer have amazing evolutionary enhancements to make them the perfect creatures to pull Santa's sleigh. And I don't just mean the ability to fly around the world in one night.


Their noses are specially adapted to warm the air they breathe before it enters their lungs and to condense water in the air, which they then use to keep their mucous membranes moist.

Santa Claus and His Reindeer
By none listed, author Clement C. Moore (1779-1863), 
publishers Charles E. Graham & Co. 
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I have to say this image is closer to the one we hold deer. 
(See what I did there.)





Their fur traps air, which not only helps provide them with excellent insulation, but also keeps them buoyant in water, which is critical being as how they often travel across massive rivers and lakes while migrating. (Could this also be how they fly? Perhaps they float, like a hot air balloon!)



Even their hooves are special. In the summer, when the ground is wet, their foot pads are softened, providing them with extra traction. In the winter, the pads tighten, revealing the rim of their hooves, which is used to provide traction in the slippery snow and ice.


Svalbard reindeer
By Billy Lindblom (originally posted to Flickr as Svalbard reindeer)
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This is better. The beauty of the creature that Santa is said to use.
Svalbard reindeer.








No wonder Santa chose reindeer to pull his sleigh.

It's a step up from a donkey.
(Just checking you were paying attention to previous posts.)

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Q is for

Quite Interesting* facts about many things Christmasy.

Benjamin Franklin Lightning Experiment 1752
By Currier & Ives, New York
(The Pennsylvania State University, Online)
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cooking with gas: Benjamin Franklin nearly killed himself in 1750 trying to electrocute a turkey for Christmas dinner.

Is that a kite or a turkey on the end of that string?











Gender confusion: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a girl.

World Santa Claus Congress at Kongens Nytorv 02
By Leif Jørgensen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Why Wales? Wouldn't Lapland be more appropriate: The world's largest gathering of Santa Clauses in Newtown, Wales, in 2004 ended in a mass brawl.

Can't quite see it somehow!









S'no business like snow business: Amongst the traditions associated with Dickens is the ‘White Christmas’. Not a common occurrence in southern England, especially in London, but there happened to be snow every Christmas of the first eight years of Dickens' life, and they're a consistent feature of his stories.


Girl on beach donkey (2883583328)
By whatsthatpicture from Hanwell, London, UK (Girl on beach donkey)
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I'm pretty sure there was a weight limit at the seaside!: Until the mid-19th century, Santa Claus always rode a donkey.

















*These facts and many more brought to you by QI.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

P is for

Plum Pudding*

*disclaimer. Does not contain actual plums. It appears that the plums in question (seriously I'm only just keeping a straight face here. I feel like I'm in a Carry On film) are actually raisins. Although they may have been prunes at some point in the pudding's long history. Or figs, considering the reference to figgy pudding in 'We wish you a Merry Christmas'.

Anyhoo, I had intended to post a long and elaborate history of the Christmas pudding. Long, confusing, and *jerks awake* Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, the middle ages somewhere... But I got bored and starting looking for an image on Creative Commons to grace this post.


The Captain of HMS MALAYA helping himself to plum pudding during Christmas dinner at Scapa Flow, 25 December 1942. A13566
By Hudson, F A (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer [Public domain], 
via Wikimedia Commons

That's when I found these and since I couldn't chose just one image I decided to pick a few and say 'sod the history lesson'.

"The Captain of HMS MALAYA helping himself to plum pudding during Christmas dinner at Scapa Flow, 25 December 1942."











Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser pouring the rum into the Christmas pudding mix on board HMS DUKE OF YORK, November 1943. A20183
By Royal Navy official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Because these are a history lesson by themselves, just one of a different kind and one that made me smile.

"Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser pouring the rum into the Christmas pudding mix on board HMS DUKE OF YORK, November 1943."

I have to confess I first read this title as 'Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser pouring the rum onto the DUKE OF YORK, November 1943' which conjured up a whole different picture in my mind.





Tasting the Christmas pudding aboard HMS COCHRANE, November 1940. A1988
By Beadell, S J (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons




I love this one. I think it's my favourite.

"Tasting the Christmas pudding aboard HMS COCHRANE, November 1940"

Charlie Cochrane, is this anything to do with you?








Members of the Women's Royal Naval Service sampling the Christmas pudding at Greenock in Scotland, 19 December 1942. A13392
By Beadell, S J (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


I could have carried on posting these for hours. One more. Ladies this time.

"Members of the Women's Royal Naval Service sampling the Christmas pudding at Greenock in Scotland, 19 December 1942"










If you really are interested in the history of Plum pudding there's quite an interesting blog post on the subject here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

O is for

Oranges, satsumas, clementines and various citrus fruit.

Clementinee
By http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/ 
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/76057601) 
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], 
via Wikimedia Commons
I love small sweet easy-peel citrus and eat as many as I can in the short period before they become too tart or dry out.

But think back, why was there always a satsuma your Christmas stocking on Christmas day.
As with many of these traditions there is often more than one origin story to pick from.

1. The oranges are a symbol of the gold it is said St Nicholas dropped down the chimney to leave as the dowry for three girls whose family couldn't afford to allow them to marry.

Illustrated seed and floral catalogue - 1900 (1900) (20370905639)
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
2. In the depression, with money tight and fruit and nuts a luxury, an orange and some walnuts would be considered  a treat.

3. Oranges haven't always been so easily obtainable in all parts of the globe so an orange would have been seen as something rare and wonderful.

4. With its many segments, an orange represents the season of giving in its ability to be shared.

I like the first one if I'm honest but I suspect it is a combination of all four.





and Oh my God, how many days until Christmas?
Ten! Still so much to do.


Monday, 14 December 2015

N is for

Nativity 

Taken by Me!

Ahh, the nativity. Who can forget it? Snotty nosed kids in sheets and tea towels with their Dad's dressing gown belt marching across the stage with a stuffed sheep tucked under their arms. Or the kid at the back all in brown with ears and tail, and picking his nose 'cos the donkey has no lines and doesn't do anything. The darlings that have to be Mary or Joseph or the Angel, even when they don't want to be.

We can attribute the first nativity to St Francis of Assisi in 1223. Concerned that Christmas was becoming too focused on gift giving (sound familiar) St Francis set up a nativity scene in a cave near Greccio, Italy to remind people of the story of the nativity. This first nativity used live animals and possibly people--of that the accounts are uncertain--while St Francis preached the story of the birth of baby Jesus to the gathered villagers.

While researching the nativity this timely story caught my eye--luckily I was late putting this post together or I would have missed it.
Man crashes car after drink driving, decides to hide from the police in a nativity scene.
The tweets in response are priceless.


and New Release
or New Lease of Life.

Both apply.
My new novel New Lease of Life is due for release on the 25th December.
Despite its release date New Lease of Life isn't a Christmas story. It doesn't even take place in December. But the ideals of Christmas can be found within its pages: giving, forgiveness, and extending a helping hand to a stranger. There may not be snow on the ground or sleigh bells in the air but hopefully this story will leave you with the same feels as the best Christmas stories. *glances up* No, not that one.

 photo NewLeaseofLifeFS_zps8hfua7ry.jpg
Cover by Paul Richmond
Blurb

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalized not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humor too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again. With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul.


It's available now to pre-order.

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
AllRomance ebooks
Kobo


It's also available in paperback.

New Lease of Life





Sunday, 13 December 2015

M is for

Mistletoe
Prof. Dr. Thomé's Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, in Wort und Bild, für Schule und Haus; mit ... Tafeln ... von Walter Müller (Pl. 460) (7982435201)
By Migula, Walter; Thomé, Otto W. 
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) 
or Public domain], 
via Wikimedia Commons

I'm sure that Rick, my gardener cum handyman from Resonance would love this botanical drawing of Mistletoe.

European mistletoe, Viscum album, is native to Europe and Great Britain. A parasitic plant with white berries that are toxic to humans. And a plant that we humans have decided that we need to kiss under it, but why?

Mistletoe remains green throughout the year, and just like holly and ivy, for this reason has been attributed with magical healing powers and associated with fertility: some cultures even viewed it as an aphrodisiac due to the suggestive arrangement of its berries. This association between mistletoe and fertility may be where the custom of kissing under mistletoe started. 
In Victorian England if a girl refused a kiss whilst standing under mistletoe, it was said that she wouldn't receive any marriage proposals during the following year.
In Norse legends there is the tale of Balder, son of the goddess Frigga, who was killed by an evil spirit with an arrow made of mistletoe. Saddened by her son's death, Frigga wept tears of white berries, which brought Balder back to life. Frigga was so overjoyed that she blessed the plant and promised a kiss to all who passed beneath it.

There is a proper etiquette for kissing under the mistletoe: first, the man can only kiss a woman or girl on the cheek and second, when he does so, he removes one berry from the mistletoe sprig. After all the berries are gone, the kissing ends.


and missed opportunities

I know I should have pimped Lovers Entwined in yesterday's L post but I didn't want to dilute the message with an obvious sales pitch. So I'm doing it today.

 photo Lovers Entwined jpeg_zpsjubdnnjo.jpg
Ewan Matthews is one of Boston’s leading genealogy experts. When a would-be bridegroom comes looking for confirmation that there are no skeletons in his ancestral closet, Ewan considers turning the job down. Trey Capell is a jerk of the highest order and yet Ewan experiences an infuriating attraction that’s easy to justify. Trey’s exactly his type—a carbon copy of the man Ewan’s been looking for his entire life.

Harder to explain is the sense of recognition that leaves Ewan speechless the moment Trey steps into his office. Or the stomach-churning sensation at the thought of casting the job aside. Trey gets more appealing by the day, leaving Ewan struggling with forbidden desire for his client. Desire not helped by strange voyeuristic dreams that have started to haunt his sleep. Dreams that appear to be an echo of the past.



Published by Finally Love Press





Buy Links: Amazon US // AmazonUK // All Romance eBooks



Inked Rainbow Reads said "if you want a good Romance Novel, this one’s it."
Nautical Star Books said "Lovers Entwined by Lillian Francis is truly an exceptional book."

This link will take you to more reviews.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

L is for

Love

Come on you knew I'd go there, didn't you.

Lifeisbeautiful
By Iltaihminen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


As Wet, Wet Wet once said 'Love is all around us'. And so it should be. Love is not finite. You aren't assigned a bucket of love and must dish it out sparingly. Love comes in many forms. Love for one should not and does not preclude love for another. Love your lover, your family, your friends. Love in thought and word and deed. In kindness to strangers and prayers for those we rarely see. Love cares not of race, colour, or gender.

Love is forever not just for Christmas.


Friday, 11 December 2015

I'm over at RJ's blog today

answering questions about Christmas.

Oh and there's a giveaway too.

Check out the main post to see what else is on offer.

K is for

Kisses

The garden - 4 - Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto, August 5 2012
By G.dallorto (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons


and Kinda finished

I've typed The End on my current WIP but, honestly, it isn't really finished. Before it can go off for the first round of beta reading I've got loads to do.
Those pesky sex scenes that are so far just line sketches need to be filled in and colour and life need to be added. 
While tackling the end I had an idea for a scene earlier in the story, but I've no idea if it will fit and I doubt if I'll know for sure until I've written it. 
There's some fact checking to do on both Muslim culture and plants.
I also need some names for side characters. Normally I wouldn't fret too much about side characters but this one might end up getting his own story so I need to get his name right.
And I need to put a name to the fictitious town that is closest to Slopy Bottom.

Any suggestions on those last two would be gratefully received.




Thursday, 10 December 2015

J is for...

Jingle Bells.

A popular Christmas song written by James Lord Pierpont, Jingle Bells was originally published under the title 'One Horse Open Sleigh' in 1857. It was originally written for Thanksgiving and it was said to be a drinking song. It had racy lyrics for the time, certainly unsuited to an audience of children. It implied that during a sleigh ride through the snowy woods an unchaperoned couple could get up to all sorts shenanigans.

Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on bobtail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

(Although less well-known than the opening, the remaining verses depict high-speed youthful fun. In the second verse, the narrator takes a ride with a girl and loses control of the sleigh.)

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.*
|: chorus :|

*upset, as in capsized, but also slang for drunk.

(In the next verse he falls out of the sleigh and a rival laughs at him.)

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
|: chorus :|

(In the last verse, after relating his experience, he gives equestrian advice to a friend to pick up some girls, find a faster horse, and take off at full speed.)

Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed[b]
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you'll take the lead.
|: chorus :|

So Jingle Bells is a bawdy drinking song**. Who knew?

**This information was taken from wiki, so season to taste.


and judging a book by its cover. 

You know we've all done it. Come on, admit it. There's one publisher where I wait for the new release email, not to see what is coming next, but to see how bad the covers are. I try not let that influence whether I buy that book or not though. In that regard I'm more likely to be swayed by the author and my friend's recommendations.
 



I've been really lucky with my cover art over the last year. I've had one cover from Paul Richmond and one
from Garrett Leigh  






and two covers from Meredith Russell.

These covers are all brilliant in their own ways and I love them all for different reasons.






Don't ask me to pick one, but I can ask you.
Which one is your favourite?


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Scrooge McStorytime

Reads of Christmas Present

Winter Wonderland by Heidi Cullinan
I’ve been waiting eagerly for Paul’s HEA since, well, since I finished the last page of Arthur and Gabriel’s story at the beginning of last December. I fawned over the cover and rejoiced when the blurb revealed who his Christmas beau would be. I added to wishlists, and snapped it up as soon as it was available for pre-order. On release date I downloaded it to my Kindle and then sat (im)patiently on the file until 1st December. So much anticipation for a read can sometimes be a disastrous thing, building up a book to such heights that it fails to reach. Not in this case. This book was everything that I wanted and more. It has the best first line ever. Paul is gruff and bear like on the outside and a gooey mess on the inside. Kyle is a fluff piece, except that he isn’t: he’s cheeky, relentless, toppy, kind and strong. And exactly what Paul needs despite the 10 year plus age difference. I won’t say more because ‘spoilers’ but just know that I loved this story. In fact I love this series and I look forward to seeing (hoping) if we get another book next year. The possibilities for future stories are certainly there and if Heidi Cullinan decides to write them I’ll be first in the queue to read them, but not until the 1st December.


Reads of Christmas Past

A list of books I’ve enjoyed in Christmas Pasts:

Tinsel Fish by Harper Fox
Baby, it’s Cold by Josh Lanyon
Waiting for Winter by LB Gregg
Comfort and Joy by Joanna Chambers
Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan
Unwrapping Hank by Eli Easton
Vixen’s Valour (North Pole City Tales #3­) by Charlie Cochet
The Heart of Frost (North Pole City Tales #2) by Charlie Cochet
Ilya and the Wolf by Rory Ni Coileain
Home for Chirappu by Ariel Tachna
Saint Martin’s Day by Kim Fielding
The Trouble with Elves by Therese Woodson
Rebound by Chris Scully
Batteries Not Included by JL Merrow
Let it Snow by Heidi Cullinan
A Prairie Dog’s Love Story by Eli Easton
Spam! It’s What’s for Christmas by Lenore Black
How I Meet Your Father by LB Gregg
Carol of the Bellskis by Astrid Amara

And one where 'twas I who put pen to paper (figuratively speaking). Fancy a story about a chimney sweep?
When Love Flue In by Lillian Francis


Reads of Christmas Future

This is a list of the books I hope to read this month:

The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughan
Midwinter’s Night Dream by Eli Easton
A Case of Christmas by Josh Lanyon (This isn’t even out yet, but as soon as it is…)
What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote
Magic and Mistletoe by Annabelle Jacobs
A Fortunate Blizzard by LC Chase
Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton

Neither of these list are definitive of what I've read or what I intend to read but I'll to the list when I can and update this year's read section too.

I is for

Ivy

Following on from yesterday's post.
Ivy-783084 640
By Robert Schneider [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ivy is the counterpart to holly both in the carol and in decoration. Like the evergreen hollies, ivy stays green throughout the year which led some cultures to believe it had magical properties. Apparently it could keep a home free from lightening strikes and ward off the devil.  It symbolized eternal life and rebirth. In some cultures, ivy was a symbol of marriage and friendship, perhaps due to its tendency to cling.

Despite many customs from pagan celebrations being incorporated by Christians into religious holidays, for a while ivy wasn't one of those to be embraced. Due to its ability to grow in shade it was thought that it signified secrecy and debauchery. However, the custom of decorating with holly and ivy during Christian holidays was eventually accepted, probably because ivy could be found everywhere in the hedgerows where people foraged for items to decorate their homes while holly wasn't so easily available.

In ancient Rome, ivy was associated with Bacchus (known as Dionysus in Greek mythology), god of wine and revelry. This fits with another theory, that ivy can neutralise the bad effects of alcohol. Allegedly, alcohol drunk from a goblet hewn from ivy wood could eliminate the ill effects of the drink.
Where can I get one of those goblets?


and idiot.

That's me in case you are wondering. I forgot that my giveaway had come to an end *facepalm* I'm blaming the pain from my trapped nerve!

Anywho, I've randomised the draw and the winner is Julie Small. 
I've sent you a message Juile. You might want to check your spam.
Spam spam spam spam.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

H is for

Holly

is a shrub with waxy green prickly leaves and red berries. Most varieties of the plant are evergreen. The berries provide food for birds but are toxic to humans causing nausea and severe stomachache.


Holly in Winter
 CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], 
via Wikimedia Commons
So the plant is still bright and vibrant against the snowy landscape that we like to think our Christmases will be and the colours of the holly are the ones that have been adopted as traditionally representing Christmas, red and green.


But why do we deck our halls with boughs of the stuff at Christmas?

Apparently the druids thought that holly had magical powers and saw it as a symbol of fertility and eternal life. In Druid lore, cutting down a holly tree would bring bad luck and hanging the plant in homes was believed to bring good luck and protection.

The Romans associated holly with Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest, and decked the halls with its boughs during the festival of Saturnalia--the Roman mid-winter festival of misrule which has heavily influenced many Christmas traditions, including the time of year we celebrate--which took place on 17th December.

It appears Christians adopted the holly tradition from Druid, Celtic and Roman traditions, and its symbolism changed to reflect Christian beliefs. The red berries to represent the blood that Jesus shed on the cross on the day he was crucified and the holly's pointed leaves to symbolize the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head before he died on the cross.


Rick, one of my MCs in Resonance (and also in my current WIP) is a gardener and an agnostic Christian. I wonder what he would make of the symbolism of the holly bush?
He'd probably ignore it and instead tell you that they thrive in the sunlight or the shade and benefit from well-drained soil. That the white blossoms will bloom in May and June. And that, while the berries are poisonous, the leaves have been used in herbal remedies for centuries for various medical conditions like dizziness, fever and hypertension. 
Rick might not be book smart like his boyfriend, Mal, but he does know his plants.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Guess who's a finalist over at the rainbow awards?

"Rainbow Pride Cheesecake" is the official pin-up boy of the Rainbow Awards
especially created by Paul Richmond

Lots of really talented authors and yes, little old me.

Theory Unproven is a Rainbow Awards finalist.



G is for...

Good King Wenceslas. 
What do we know about him apart from the fact that he went for a tromp in the snow on Boxing Day?

Good king wenceslas crop
By Good_King_Wenceslas_10a.gif: Brothers Dalziel
derivative work: Victuallers (Good_King_Wenceslas_10a.gif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The song was composed by a Victorian, the Rev. John Mason Neale in 1853. But the Good King Wenceslas was actually born centuries earlier. He was the Duke of Bohemia in the years 921-935, born and raised a Christian but with a Pagan mother who he exiled after she led a revolt in which his Christian Grandmother was murdered. The revolt was unsuccessful and he remained a Christian for the rest of his life. He was murdered by his brother on his way to Mass on morning.
He is better known for his alleged practise of giving alms to the poor and needy. It is also said that every Christmas day he would visit each of the servants and soldiers in his castle and press a gold coin into his or her hand.

And it is from this reputation rather than the battle between Christian and Pagan or his bloody end that the ‘Good’ King (who was really a Duke) is most well known. 

Kindness to the poor and needy, not just at Christmas, but all year round. Not a bad legacy to leave.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

F is for

friends and fandom. (or a post where I shamelessly name drop people more talented, popular, and famous than I am)
Because without either of those things I wouldn’t be writing this blog post now.

I never intended to read fan fiction. I was only looking for artwork and fan vids. Honestly.  But my tag line on my fan blog says it all,'Never reading fanfic...maybe just one...one more won't hurt...Damn!'.  So, I was reading fan fiction but I had no plans to actually write any. Nope. None. WHATSOEVER. Forget the fact that I’d started several novels twenty years previously that I’d never finished, I had no intention of writing fan fiction. Hah!

So, online friends, fandom, and the birth of Lillian Francis are forever linked for me.

It was a fandom friend and erotic romance author, Christine D’Abo, who finally convinced me to write something original and send it off to a publisher. I’d been focusing on AUs for most of my fan fiction writing, so it wasn’t a huge jump. Yes, I’ll admit there are seeds of my fandom in that story if you care to look for them, it's not so easy to stray from what you've been writing that first time and trust yourself.

My online bestie, Katherine Halle, came with me on that journey from fandom to published author and has been my beta reader and No 1 cheerleader for the entire time.  She also came with me to my first UK Meet. Brighton, where I met Jo Myles for the first time despite having been emailing for a while, because, yep, you guessed it, we were in the same fandom. And I connected with Sue Brown on the Fan fiction buffet table.

Having been to one I knew I could do the next Meet (Bristol 2014) on my own (because someone had selfishly naffed off back across the pond *side eyes KH*). I’d made online contact with enough authors that I felt comfortable(ish—for a socially awkward introvert) introducing myself to people I only knew as a name on the screen.  And this year, at Bristol again, I added even more names to that list of people.

I know there has been controversy surrounding our genre several times this year but I can honestly say that I have encountered nothing but friendliness and a willingness to help and I always try to play that forward.

Here’s a few people that have made my time as an author an enjoyable experience, with help, beta reader, idea flinging, even cover art, all freely given. For all those things, and just being around to share the joy and pain of writing, or for making me smile every time I open my feed.
Jay Northcote
RJ Scott
Meredith Russell
Elin Gregory
Clare London
Liam Livings
Garrett Leigh

And two of my staunchest readers/supporters: jules0623 and idamus.

Thank you all.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

E is for

Eggnog2
By Dinner Series
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Eggnog

Apparently a 'marmite' drink, in that you either love it or hate it.

From what I can find in my research most people agree that Eggnog can trace its roots back to a concoction called possett, a drink of hot milk curdled with ale. Over time eggs were added to the mix bringing possett closer to the drink we commonly know as eggnog. The ale was removed and replaced with rum.
Nowadays most recipes seem to call for a dark rum or bourbon, but I'm guessing whatever dark spirit you have in the cupboard would be fine. The main divide seems to revolve around whether you should cook the egg.
The name seems to derive from the word 'noggin' which referred to a small wooden mug.

Regardless of the history I think I shall attempt to make some eggnog this year. Perhaps I shall try out many recipes. Or maybe I'll just take my Kraken neat ;)



and Every Reader Counts

So to all the readers and reviewers who have taken the time and spent their hard earned cash reading my stories this year, I thank you.

Friday, 4 December 2015

D is for

Dick Dongle.
It’s the name Kris Kringle goes by when he’s making one of his ‘specialist’ movies.
Hey, don’t judge, the guy needs to have something to do the other 11 months of the year.

and Deadpool.



The movie poster is here!
Roll on February.