Dangerous Holidays by Tray Ellis
The holidays are fraught with a lot of danger.
This is true for just about every family that tries (or sometimes tries to avoid) coming together for yearly meals and traditions. The stakes for managing logistics and hurt feelings are perilously high.
A quick trip through any social media outlet will net stories that run the spectrum from bold aunts who aren't afraid to speak their mind on polities over pie to surly grandfathers who serve their pets the choicest bits on the good dinnerware to the aghast displeasure of the host.
Our family members are familiar with us and have our long history at their fingertips, which also means they feel less compelled to play by social niceties. Advice columns are filled to the brim with poignant letters asking how to deal with family dynamics.
In "A Piece of Ourselves", I explore one aspect of these dangerous holiday fractions -- the one where a couple is torn between spending time at two different families, who both very much want their attendance. It's not the worst problem to have, but it is certainly challenging.
Thanksgiving only has so many hours in the afternoon and evening. How many servings can a single person actually eat? Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have the same drawback.
I've spent more than a few holidays eating early with one group only to rush off to the second where I am faced with another complete dinner spread. Sharing a meal and feeding ones' family is an act of love, but is it good if at the end of the day your clothes don't fit and you waddle so much you feel like quacking? Pleasing your family by falling in step can be overwhelming!
This double dinner solution was the best work-around for a time and a lot of couples do this. Others choose to eat one day with one family and the next day with another, if travel distances aren't an obstacle. And there are plenty of variations on these types of logistics. My characters, Tynan and Carson, struggle with these options as they try to find their way through high emotional expectations. Carson's mom puts stress on them and during the holidays it is very easy to get stressed out. It takes quite a bit for Tynan and Carson to avoid the pitfalls and find a way to survive the gauntlet of festivities.
There are no ideal solutions--except maybe one comes a little close: let your family off the hook. Spend time with them when it isn't the holiday and don't let the pressure of one perfect day or meal put you in a cage. If you can, start with not letting your own feelings be hurt and you'll be doing yourself an enormous favor. Relax as much as you can.
And, like Tynan and Carson, take the time to figure out how to preserve a piece of yourself so you can safely navigate the dangers of the holidays.
For the first time, Mischief Corner Books is releasing a month-long collection of holiday-themed tales:
Traditional Winter Holidays can be tough for a variety of reasons—family pressures, finding the right gift, homesick longing, and haunting memories to name a few. This collection showcases eleven queer short stories, from tender contemporaries to sweet paranormal to far-flung space tales, all designed to make you want to reach for your hot cocoa and your favorite snuggly spot. Come join us for A Holiday To Remember.
For this tour, Mischief Corner Books is giving away two $25 gift certificates to their eBook store, and two rainbow beanies. To enter, just use the rafflecopter here, or below:
Story Blurbs & Info
Life hasn't been easy for Amir since he fled Iran after a brutal imprisonment. The trauma experienced at the hands of the guards left a dark spot on his soul. The one constant in his life since relocating to Chicago has been his lover—now husband—Esmail, whose steadfast love and support has soothed his wounded heart.
But this Shab-e Yalda, Amir wants to be the one giving his husband something special, because even after the darkest nights, the sun will rise again.
Freddy grew up in the Midwest, playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since Freddy was small and throwing worms at other kids, except worm throwing has been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction. Freddy enjoys traveling and holds the view a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.
Freddy's contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place - Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Freddy's story, Internment, tied for 3rd Place - Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Freddy's steampunk/SF story, Feel Me, was a Finalist and honorable mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards for SF. And in 2015, Freddy's urban fantasy Snow on Spirit Bridge was also a Finalist and honorable mention.
For more information on Freddy's work, please visit or email:
But To Love More
Mel finally gets to go home for Christmas. In his absence, his hometown has changed, and Carlos, his best friend’s little brother, is all grown up and interested in a relationship. But Carlos has his work cut out for him since Mel's having trouble seeing past the little brother part and his big brother, Aldo's determined to keep them apart.
Foster Bridget Cassidy is a rare, native Phoenician who enjoys hot desert air and likes to wear jackets in summer. She has wanted to be a fiction writer since becoming addicted to epic fantasy during high school. Since then, she’s studied the craft academically—at Arizona State University—and as a hobby—attending conventions and workshops around the country. A million ideas float in her head, but it seems like there’s never enough time to get them all down on paper.
Corey's Christmas Bundle (Atherton Pack 5)
Being pregnant is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re male and a shifter. Even though the world now knows about wolf shifters, their male’s ability to bare young is still a closely guarded secret. Since Corey's pregnancy is now visible, he's been stuck at home working on code and waiting for company to drop by. Problem is, though, the human government wants to know where Corey is.
As Christmas and Corey’s due date draw ever nearer, Ben devises a plan that will not only get Corey out of the house, but allows the wolves of Atherton Pack to give the community some Christmas cheer.
Toni Griffin lives in Darwin, the smallest of Australia’s capital cities. Born and raised in the state she’s a Territorian through and through. Growing up Toni hated English with a passion (as her editors can probably attest to) and found her strength lies with numbers.
Now, though, she loves escaping to the worlds she creates and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come. She’s a single mother of one and works full time. When she’s not writing you can just about guarantee that she will be reading one of the many MM authors she loves. Feel free to drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
For more information about Toni's work, please visit:
Safety Protocols For Human Holidays
As a security officer on an interspecies ship, Growlan Raskli's experienced in heading off species-specific aberrant behaviors in order to keep the peace. But when her captain asks her to find out what's bothering their sole human crew member, Raskli's out of her depths. She hardly knows anything about humans and she's not a psych doctor.
Something's definitely upset Human Jen, something to do with human holidays. The more time Raskli spends studying humans and interacting with the intriguing Human Jen, the more personal the assignment becomes. Determined to lift the dark cloud from Human Jen, Raskli will do whatever it takes—within safe parameters, of course.
While Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres, she writes both kinds of queer fiction – Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author's head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate. For more information on Angel’s work, please visit:
Website: Erotic Fiction for the Hungry Mind
Secrets & Silk
Quiet, strait-laced David Appleton thinks he’s going to have a problem at work. A new co-worker discovered his secret in the locker room. Unable to confront someone, David let him walk away. Now he worries everyone will know his deepest held secret. A secret hidden under his signature vest, tie, and trousers.
Since walking in on his co-worker, CJ O’Connell tries to get a moment to speak with the shy David, but nothing works. His last hope—the Secret Santa Gift Exchange party. Perhaps a special gift can peel away the secrets.
A quiet one, Nicole Dennis curled up with the latest book of a favorite author. Since the beginning, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told. She began writing during class and continues to this day. Now she can let others into her imagination and worlds that always celebrate the love between two or more people within LGBT, paranormal, and fantasy.
During the day, she works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her imagination. She is owned by a semi-demonic tortie calico, affectionately known as Fat Cat. For more information on Nicole, please visit:
It's Christmastime and the snow is falling. Restoring an old Victorian manor has been keeping contractor Brett Hawkins busy. The project's meant to be complete by Christmas, but there's no way he can get it done in time, especially with the big day right around the corner.
Meanwhile, his beloved Manuel Aguilar is grappling with depression, and he's consumed by guilt that it's kept him from putting up the decorations. But his biggest concern is that he may be ruining the holiday for Brett. As Manny struggles, unable to recognize his own courage in every small gain, Brett has a surprise that may help break depression's hold.
I have my mom to thank for so much. First of all, she fostered a love of reading. According to her I've been reading since I could hold a book and I got my first library card at age 3. Growing up I used to read 100 books a year, but of course, that doesn't happen as often since there's writing to do and a day job.
Secondly, I have to thank her for always pushing me to keep chasing my dream of being an author. Who else am I going to bounce ideas off of, and she helps me when I get stuck. Suppose you could say she's my biggest fan.
When I'm not writing I enjoy time with my dog, tending my garden, baking sweet treats, walking through crunchy fall leaves and blankets of cold snow, playing video games, and reading! I've a fondness for horses and blankets (is it possible to own too many?)
And yes, some days I still wish I was Batman. For more information about Kassandra and her work, please visit:
Christmas Eve Craigslist Killer
The public library's computer geek, aka Travis, is content skirting the edges of social interaction. He's fully committed to being a boring, twenty-something IT guy who likes his office more than people, a guy someone like Connor would never fall for. Connor, who works on the library floor as a page, is outgoing, social, and charming and everything else that stands for "fun."
An interaction between the two at the library on Christmas Eve has Travis accidentally mentioning that he failed to find this year's hottest toy for his nephew. Immediately, Connor goes on a quick hunt online, and finds one. The only problem is that the Craigslist seller is hours away and Travis is sure spending hours in a car with quirky, handsome Connor can only end badly.
Jill started writing back in the day of notebook paper and erasable pens (blue ink is best), when her mom’s typewriter was out of ribbon. Then she graduated to a word processing program in MS-DOS, then WordPerfect. Her computer sadly caught the Blue Screen of Death and all was lost. She stopped writing for an extremely long time, because “life.”
She lives in the upper Bible Belt, rolls her eyes a lot and drinks enough wine to consider it a sacrifice to the gods that her kids won’t need too much therapy down the road.
A while back, Jill picked up writing again with a woman’s site and the writing fever spiked. But she’s actually new to publishing, so there may or may not have been more wine involved recently (only one glass was harmed in the making of this story and it was a mason jar so…bygones).
Nick is not looking forward to his second Christmas without Sammi, his gorgeous ex-fiancee. She left him on New Year’s Eve, a week after their engagement, and he still doesn’t know why.
A chance meeting whilst out Christmas shopping reveals that Sammi is now Sam, a transgender man. As the reasons behind their break-up become clearer, Nick cannot make sense of his new feelings. He is shocked by the deep attraction he still has to Sam, and what that says about himself.
It will take Nick's straight-talking family, and Sam’s guiding hand, to help him discover that gender is no barrier to love.
Jayne Lockwood has been writing for most of her life, starting with really bad poetry as a teenager, usually railing against nuclear war (it was the 1970's.) There followed a couple of novels, long since consigned to flames (probably just as well, TBH,) and the hazy idea that maybe one day, she would get something published. Her first successful writing assignment was for the college newspaper of the County College of Morris, in Randolph, New Jersey, where she studied Journalism.
Since then, Jayne has been involved in projects closer to home, working closely with other authors to continue to develop their writing. Two pieces of her prose can be found in Chalk Road, a collaborative anthology from local writers, sponsored by Wycombe District Council, and she has invariably been involved in a writing group, as well as running a local book group.
She has also had five Black Lace titles published by Virgin Books, under the pseudonym, Savannah Smythe, and has collaborated with glamour celebrity, Abi Titmuss, to produce 10 Fantasies, Abi's collection of short stories.
Jayne has also published three M/M erotica stories, Lexington Black, Docklands Diamond and My Boyfriend Is A Dog, under S A Smythe. In addition to that, she writes book reviews for WROTE Podcast, a forum for LGBTQ readers and writers. She helped set up the podcast in 2015 with fellow writers, S A Collins (sacollins.com) and Vance Bastian (vancebastian.com) and is proud to say the podcast is going from strength to strength.
The Cloud Seeker is Jayne's first mainstream novel, and draws upon her background as a Chilterns woman and her affection for the US, where she lived for two years.
Soon after, she rediscovered the very first manuscript she started back in 1996. After many hours of updating, it was finally published on Amazon. Closer Than Blood is a tale of hit men, blackmail and forbidden passion, set in Manhattan. Both novels are currently available as ebook and paperback, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and many on-line book retailers.
She always has at least one novel in the background, and at the present time she is working on her first science fiction novel, working title Euphoria, based on the nuclear bunker near where she lives.
For more information about Jayne and her work, please visit:
A Piece Of Ourselves
Balancing holidays between two families can make cheerful celebrations into chores. Carson Benedetti's mom has overscheduled the Christmas holidays and she's more than insistent that boyfriend Tynan Harris come into the family fold. There's so much to do Tynan can't find time to bring Carson over to his own family and he feels like they are being left in the dust.
After dating for nine months, and with their relationship becoming more serious, Tynan's patience is sorely tested by the multitude of Benedetti family traditions keeping them busy. Tynan needs to figure out how to find some breathing room, split their time more fairly, and make Christmas more than just tradition by rote.
Tray Ellis grew up across from an empty field, where she spun a lot of imaginary adventures, helping to prepare her for a lifetime of writing. When she isn’t writing, she stays active by hiking, cooking, stacking the odd cord of wood in the shed, baking, and being too busy to keep her home in any semblance of order. Currently she tries to find a balance between the logical way she thinks and the flights of fancy she often daydreams about. Mostly, the daydreams are winning. For more information about Tray, please visit:
I Only Want to Be With You
Derrek is dealing with the recent, unexpected death of his mother. He’s been alone for five year since his husband Will died, and he’s ready to find someone new and to start living again. Ryan lost his partner, David, in an auto accident, and is dating Alex, who doesn’t treat him right.
Derrek can’t figure out why Ryan won’t see what’s right in front of his face. Why does Ryan come to him to talk about all his hopes, dreams, and fears, then go home to Alex?
If Derrek can figure that out, they might just have a shot.
Scott is the admin for the Queer Sci Fi site. He has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him "the only one stopping you from writing is you."
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He's embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.
A New Year On Vega III
On the colony planet Vega III, everyone knows Beck—outgoing, fabulous, and genderqueer—and nobody notices Anil, the quiet plant biologist. But when Anil finds Beck hiding in his greenhouse, lonely and missing Earth, it's Anil who is able to comfort Beck by letting them talk about what they miss most—the feeling that comes with celebrating the holidays with loved ones, especially New Year's Eve.
The two of them are drawn to one another, but both of them are hiding secrets about their sexuality. With trust between them already on shaky ground, Anil's elaborate plans to cheer Beck may well backfire.
I write all over the fantasy and science fiction spectrum, including (so far) secondary-world fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, Gothic, historical paranormal, spaceships, and various unholy mashups of these.
I grew up in Alberta, Canada, but now live in an old house in Toronto. My other current passion is contra dance, a social/folk dance done to live Celtic and roots music. My favourite places in the world are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and a little valley in Norway. In my other life, I edit non-fiction for the government. For more information, please visit or email:
Welcome to My World