I’m so excited to have been invited to write a short story for Naughty or Nice, a holiday-themed, fantasy collection whose proceeds will go to the charity Kids Need to Read. Here’s their mission: “Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.” Getting books in the hands of children is a goal I can support.
And you’ll notice that this is a fantasy collection, a new genre for me, but one that I’d been considering delving into at some point. Well, when you get the chance to write alongside names like J. R. Rain, Barbra Annino, and all the rest, you find a way to move up your timetable from “at some point” to “right away.” I dropped everything and began creating a whole new world–from place to characters to mythology–that I hope may one day become the basis of the Soul-seer Series.
My short story contribution, “Carol,” introduces the characters who populate the Soul-seer world. By day, Calla Hawthorne works as a forensic psychologist, uncovering the secrets behind ambiguous death cases and providing closure for both victims and their families. But on the side, Calla uses her abilities to identify revenants, risen souls who have returned to earth, and to help them find a way to move on. But not all souls rise peacefully, and soon Calla, Pursiful, and the other Soul-seers find themselves dealing with a growing number of violent revenants who refuse to take the final step into eternity.
A mix of magical, spooky, and romantic tales for the holidays.
The Santa Call, by J.R. Rain – Santa calls a radio talk show seeking advice on matters of the heart.
Disco Angels, by Danielle Younge-Ullman – It’s the holidays, and whether Sarah is ready or not, she and her family are in for a wild, dysfunctional and possibly magical evening.
One Stormy Christmas, by Toni LoTempio – Autumn finds getting a Christmas present for her vamp boyfriend ins’t as easy as she thinks – not when Bad Santa’s involved!
Fortune Cat’s Visit, by Heather Massey – Lynn Chong is alone on the eve of Chinese New Year taking care of the dusty San Francisco Chinatown shop she inherited after her parents’ death when a handsome stranger, Jian Yuen, enters the shop. Jian is there to claim a mysterious alien artifact in Lynn’s possession and price is no object. Lynn isn’t sure she wants to surrender one of the last ties to her parents, but her attraction to Jian, that she suspects is mutual, may be too tempting to resist.
Real Elves, by Helen Smith – As she emerges from visiting Santa in a department store in London, Sophie’s grandfather reports her missing… but the little girl’s right there. Is she a ghost, a twin, an alien abductee—or is there some simpler explanation? Amateur sleuth Emily Castles has fifteen minutes to figure out the puzzle before the police are called and Christmas is ruined.
Carol, by J.W. Becton – By day, Calla Hawthorne works as a forensic psychologist, but on the side, she uses her abilities to identify revenants, risen souls who have returned to earth. This year, Calla’s holiday plans are cut short when she must save a child from a murderer and convince Matt Carol, the murder victim, to take that final step into eternity.
Krampus Klaus, by Christiana Miller – When Gina and Bobby wake up at midnight on Christmas Eve, they catch Santa in the middle of his present deliveries — but he’s unlike any Santa they’ve ever heard of. He’s short-tempered, rude and wouldn’t know jolly if it ran him over with a sleigh. Turns out that Santa has been cursed. Gina and Bobby have to figure out a way to save him before Santa turns into the demonic Krampus, (Hell’s official Punisher and Tormentor of Naughty Children), forever.
Dark Christmas, by Liz Schulte – Ella Reynolds loves Christmas, but not parties. However, at the prompting of her boyfriend she reluctantly agrees to host a Christmas party at her house. But when an unexpected guest arrives, the party is over. A man dressed as Santa Claus is found dead at her front door. Who killed Santa and what does he want with her?
Santa Stole My Ghoulfriend, by Rose Pressey – Psychic investigator Larue Donavan is usually dedicated to helping lost spirits find peace. But this time, she’s tasked with helping a lost woman find her Christmas spirit.
The Perfect Gift, by Barbra Annino – A young wife struggling with fertility receives a unique gift from her husband that wreaks havoc on her home and her sanity.