Hello! Welcome to the special holiday edition of the SFR Brigade Showcase. Are you looking forward to Christmas? I know I am! Mostly for all the food, as hubs and I no longer give each other presents (it's all about our monsters now). But for this post, I'm offering you a few presents - an event exclusive and free short story download, an excerpt, and a recipe for Christmas Cookies that you can also use as decorations.
For this month's event, I've finally managed to write a Christmas SFR which I'm giving away for the duration of this event - the story will not be available at retailers or after the 19th, so grab it quick! It features my main SFR couple from time travel series Redemption - Keir and Quin - and takes place four months after the events in Keir's Fall (Book Two). So if you haven't read the two current books of the series, prepare for spoilers!
Keir glanced up from his reading as Quin came back into the main living room. “Is she settled?”
“Finally, but in with Ferron.” Quin flopped onto the soft seating at his side with a lengthy sigh, then leaned into him. “She wouldn’t sleep without him.”
“He is a good child.” Keir laid down his reader to put his arm around Quin and brush a kiss over her forehead.
“He’s very tolerant. I’m not sure I’d have put up with a younger sibling wriggling in my bed and stealing my blankets, but he seems to find it fun. They adore each other.” Quin raised her head as a stronger blast of wind shook the house. “Sounds worse.”
“It is the solstice today. S’rano says that is always the worst, but at least it means we will soon be past it.”
“I hope so.” She snuggled in closer, grateful for Keir’s warm embrace with the storm raging outside. Even with a decent fire burning in the iron-meshed pit at their feet, the thought of the cold winds and icy rain outside sent shivers over her skin. Winter was definitely the time of year to cuddle up under blankets and not think about going out. “Did you have any kind of celebrations in winter?”
“We had the Midwinter Feast at this time of year. Three days of banqueting in the great hall, with storytelling and acrobats and all kinds of entertainers. Dancing.” Keir sighed, and his voice softened. “Friends and family would exchange small tokens. Visitors would come from far and wide to stay no matter how deep the snow, and the poor could come to the palace gate to be gifted a basket of food and a cup of hot spiced wine each day.” He was silent for a long moment, his muscles tensing under her arm. “I was not allowed to join the public gathering even before my exile, though I would watch from the gallery with my mother when she did not have to be present to greet guests.”
“Would you show me?”
“If you wish.”
A great hall filled with the golden light of candles and members of court in their finery filled her head, along with the sound of music and laughter. But around it she sensed the pain he felt at being excluded from the revelry, a young child banished to the edge of it all, cursed to watch from the outside.
“So many candles,” she murmured, trying to divert his memory from that feeling of exile.
“Yes. We would keep at least one burning from the last day of autumn until the first day of spring, in defiance of Kaltana, the winter goddess. Those who could not afford candles would use red, orange and yellow ribbons or rags tied to their clothing or the rafters of their house, or draw the symbol of flames on their buildings.” The image he had shared with her faded as he let it slip away. “What about you?”
“Well, we had Christmas. We’d put up an evergreen tree, or a fake one, and cover it in decorations. Give each other presents.” The words caught in her throat as she remembered. Damn. So many years since she’d even thought about Christmas. She hadn’t even realized how much she’d missed that precious one day of the year when they’d all be together. So long ago.
“Would you show me that?”
“Here.” She focused on the big tree they used to have, deliberately keeping her memories away from the faces of her two long dead sisters. “We used to put it up the first weekend of December–Christmas was held on the 25th day.”
“Why a tree?”
“Something to do with it being evergreen, when pretty much all other plants have died back for the winter. Symbolizing everlasting life or something. I don’t really know.” ‘Why’ had never really mattered. Only that it was something they did together every year...until they didn’t any more.
“Anything else?” Keir said when she stayed silent.
“Oh, yes.” Her voice came out husky and she tried to clear it before speaking again. “There’d be a special dinner with turkey and stuffing and...mmm...roast potatoes.” Her stomach growled at the memory even though they’d all eaten just an hour ago. “At least, that’s what we did when I was little and my dad was alive. After he’d gone...so did all the fun. And the food.”
The crackling fire and the wind’s dismal moans filled the silence that followed. Quin blinked away the tightness around her eyes. Maybe she shouldn’t have brought up the subject of holidays.
Sorry, Keir and Quin's free Christmas story is no longer available to download, but you can still check out the other current stories in the series by clicking on the links below the two book covers.
|A Science Fiction Romance Novel|
Goodreads | Webpage
iBooks | Nook | Kobo
Amazon | ARe | Smashwords
Print available from...
CreateSpace | B&N | Amazon
The Book Depository
|A Science Fiction Romance Novel|
Goodreads | Webpage
Amazon | ARe
B&N | Kobo | iBooks
Amazon | B&N
The Book Depository
And if you'd like something to munch on while you're reading, here's my recipe for those Christmas Cookies I mentioned:
Christmas Star Biscuits (Cookies)
The basic sweet biscuit recipe for this has been in my family since before I was born, but I’ve added a twist to create the coloured centers. You will need:
4oz. caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
8oz. plain flour
Boiled sweets/hard coloured candy (I used blue ones for this batch as they were made to celebrate the book anniversary for my blue skinned hero Keir).
Oven temperature: 350°F
Lightly grease three baking trays. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg gradually and beat well. Sift the flour and fold into the creamed mixture. Knead lightly and roll out to the required thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters – for mine I used two different sizes of star and kept the middles too, but you could use any shape. Place on the trays and put a boiled sweet in the hole in the middle – you can crush these to make them melt quicker in the oven so the biscuit part doesn’t overcook. Bake toward the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes until pale brown (the sweet should melt and spread out in the center of the biscuit). Allow to cool before removing from the trays to allow the melted sweet to reset.
You could also make different shapes and use different coloured sweets to vary the design, even using them to make edible Christmas tree decorations if you make a hole in the biscuit before cooking to thread ribbon. You can also flavor the biscuit (because of the sweets I didn’t add any flavoring to these) by using the following:
2 level tsps. grated lemon rind
2 level tsps. mixed spice or cinnamon
2 tsps. Vanilla essence
2oz. dried fruit
2oz. glace cherries, chopped
Grated rind of one orange.
I hope you enjoyed that. If you'd like more, please check out the other authors participating in the event by clicking on any of the links below. In the meantime...