Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Buh-Bye 2020 and Good Riddance

We're almost at the finish line of a year that will go down in history with great infamy. Artist Marco Melgrati conveys my opinions of the year quite succinctly in his 2020 send-off illustration.

Happy Almost New Year, Dear Readers.

By Marco Melgrati

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Veronica Waves Farewell to the SFF7 Saturday


This is my last post here as a regular blogger. I've had a wonderful time being a member of the blog over the years and I love my fellow authors. It's a great crew!

But I've decided to simplify my life for 2021 and to concentrate my time in a more focussed fashion on things to do with scifi romance. I'll still write posts for my own blog, for the AMAZING STORIES magazine blog and for the Roswell Daily Record newspaper. Not to mention continuing to write my scifi romance novels, ancient Egyptian paranormals and a few fantasy romances!

For my other platforms, I self-generate what I'm going to write about and pretty much blog on my own schedule if I feel inspired to cover some topic or the other. Or to not post...

I post a weekly snippet from my latest release on the weekends on my blog and a weekly New Releases Report for scifi romance/fantasy/paranormal romance on Wednesdays, which is a lot of work to do but fun. Readers tell me they find a lot of new-to-them authors and books to try every week, so I think it's a good way for me to support my favorite genres. I usually have 50-100 new books in the various genres (in which I also include time travel romance, steampunk and cozy paranormal mysteries) to list. I do a LOT of one clicking myself while I'm preparing the report every week. Here's the link to last week's post, if you haven't sampled the report.

So my focus has really shifted away from 'general' blogging these past few years and I think it's time to step aside and give someone else a chance to provide a fresh voice here.

I'll miss the SFF7 readers, and the camaraderie of this tight little group of authors but I'll stop by the read the posts and tweet them out...

Sending everyone my very best wishes for a much better 2021! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

From all of us at SFF Seven: May your holiday be as merry and bright as it is for  a kitten and her first Christmas tree. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Anticipation Is Wonderful


Christmas Is Almost Here rectangular sign hanging on a tree along with red balls and lights.

Anticipation is a wonderful thing. 

It builds excitement, it makes us hopeful, and it allows room to dream. 

My family and I celebrate Christmas and there's been tons of all of the above this week and also snow! I'm thankful for all of it.

I hope your week and weekend are filled with joy, love, and peace! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

New Sci-Fi Romance Release: JAMOKAN by Veronica Scott

Veronica's been busy this year! Our favorite Saturday blogger dropped her latest Badari Warriors Sci-Fi Romance this week. JAMOKAN is lucky # 13 in the series, but it also stands alone. Get yourself a Happily Ever After for the holidays and stay warm with some futuristic steam!

Badari Warriors #13

Badari Alpha Jamokan and his pack are growing discontented in the sanctuary valley, tired of coming in second place to the pushy new South Seas pack when it comes to assignments and everything else. On top of the discord within his pack, Jamokan is distracted by the search for the right woman to be a proper Alpha’s mate to partner with him in combat and in everyday life. Even the Badari goddess is warning him in visions that he and his pack are on the wrong path for a happy future. In desperation, he receives permission to take his entire pack north to the mountains for a two-week hunting expedition, where he hopes to use the time and rugged surroundings to settle the soldiers down and restore order and discipline.

And figure out his own future.

When his men unexpectedly locate a hidden Khagrish lab, he goes to investigate and see if there are humans to be rescued. Little does he suspect he’ll be called upon to break one of the highest commandments of the Badari packs and bring a new disaster to those who look to him for leadership.

Before she became a Khagrish prisoner, Rosemari Parcher was a hydroponics technician on a gritty colony world, who unexpectedly won a planetwide contest. Tapped to receive her heart’s desire and move to a totally different life in the luxurious Inner Sectors, her life had become a happy dream. Kidnapped in space by enemy aliens and given to the Khagrish, she and other humans are the unwilling subjects of a bizarre medical experiment where a quick death seems to be her only hope. Rescued by Jamokan and his pack, she finds herself deeply attracted to the Alpha but the devious Khagrish aren’t through with Rosemari or the experiment.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon

Monday, December 21, 2020

Favorite Holiday Meme

 It December 21st, I'm moving to a different state today. Guess what my holiday thoughts are...

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Jeffe's Favorite Holiday Meme

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is our fave holiday gif, image, etc. Love an easy assignment in this busy season! Here's mine :D 

BOOM! done. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Three Things About My New Release Jamokan


Our topic this week is to name three things we like in any area or topic. Since I just released a new book, here are the top three things that make me happy about JAMOKAN:

1. That I wrote it at all in this crazy pandemic year. I really struggled and then finally...finally the Muse relented and agreed to be creative despite all the stress, social distancing, lack of time with the grandchildren,sad things going on in the world...85K words later - the book!

2. I particularly enjoyed exploring this character who had kind of gotten shunted aside since the series began. He had quite a mix of emotions going on...

3. The reader who PM'ed me they'd sat on the couch for five hours straight and read the book as soon as it downloaded to their kindle because they could not stop reading. WOOT!

The story:

Badari Alpha Jamokan and his pack are growing discontented in the sanctuary valley, tired of coming in second place to the pushy new South Seas pack when it comes to assignments and everything else. On top of the discord within his pack, Jamokan is distracted by the search for the right woman to be a proper Alpha’s mate to partner with him in combat and in everyday life. Even the Badari goddess is warning him in visions that he and his pack are on the wrong path for a happy future. In desperation, he receives permission to take his entire pack north to the mountains for a two week hunting expedition, where he hopes to use the time and rugged surroundings to settle the soldiers down and restore order and discipline.
And figure out his own future.

When his men unexpectedly locate a hidden Khagrish lab, he goes to investigate and see if there are humans to be rescued. Little does he suspect he’ll be called upon to break one of the highest commandments of the Badari packs and bring a new disaster to those who look to him for leadership.
Before she became a Khagrish prisoner, 

Rosemari Parcher was a hydroponics technician on a gritty colony world, who unexpectedly won a planetwide contest. Tapped to receive her heart’s desire and move to a totally different life in the luxurious Inner Sectors, her life had become a happy dream. Kidnapped in space by enemy aliens and given to the Khagrish, she and other humans are the unwilling subjects of a bizarre medical experiment where a quick death seems to be her only hope. Rescued by Jamokan and his pack, she finds herself deeply attracted to the Alpha but the devious Khagrish aren’t through with Rosemari or the experiment.

This is the fifteenth book in the Badari Warriors world (and the thirteenth book in the numbered series) and each novel or novella has a satisfying Happy for Now ending for the hero and heroine, not a cliffhanger. Genetically engineered soldiers of the far future, the Badari were created by alien enemies to fight humans. But then the scientists kidnapped an entire human colony from the Sectors to use as subjects in twisted experiments…the Badari and the humans made common cause, rebelled and escaped the labs. Now they live side by side in a sanctuary valley protected by a powerful Artificial Intelligence, and wage unceasing war on the aliens. Some overarching issues do remain unresolved in each book since this is an ongoing series but romance always wins the day in my novels!

Amazon      Apple Books      Kobo      GooglePlay      Nook coming soon

Friday, December 18, 2020

Top Three Reasons Not to Take the Cat to the Vet


Top three reasons? 

There are that many water bowls. All over the house. Not to mention how many massive puddles (and water flung 3/4 of the way up walls, thank you very much) I had to try to clean up for the first eight hours this little monster came down off the vet's laughing gas. 

I asked the vet tech who called the next morning to check on him what the hell they give cats nowadays to put them under for surgery. Cause this is the second time I've had cats who are normally mortally offended by water decide they were mercats after a little happy juice. She laughed.

Corvid had some bad teeth. They're gone. He's fine now. I didn't even ruffle his fur after the shower he gave at the end of this video.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

my favorite things...aren't things


Alexia, with a black and red Underarmor backpack and mug and Coffee thermos, heading into the pine tree woods for a day of writing.

It’s the holidays and Christmas is approaching…so I’m going to get sentimental on you all today. 

This week we’re picking our three favorites. I have a lot of favorites. Favorite champagne: Le Mesnil, favorite pie: peach, favorite book: wait—I can’t answer that because there’s too many! But this year when I think of my favorites, the only thing that comes to mind is what really matters most. And they’re not things. 

My favorites are my family. No matter which direction I’m going, or where I’m hiking off to, I know they’re always behind me. 

A kitchen table with a collection of bourbon bottles, wine glass, and plastic cups that are numbered for the bourbon tasting.
My favorites are my friends. The right ones know when I need a call or a friendly message. They know how to pick me up and they’re always down for a bourbon tasting evening. They’re worth more than their weight in gold.

My favorite is my pup, Ullr. Being loved unconditionally is a difficult thing to grasp, especially when your own sense of self worth and success are strained. So having a physical reminder, every day, of that kind of love in the form of a fluffy fur-ball is amazing. 

Ullr the Husky Pup leaping through evergreen ground cover.

Those are my favorites. What are yours?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Top Three Apocalypse Scenarios I Don’t Want to Live

Up until about a year ago, disaster movies and post-apocalyptic books were my personal happy place. Maybe Alas, Babylon converted me at an impressionable age or something. That Contagion movie, for instance? Man, I don’t even care how well it was (or wasn’t) researched, I watched the thing like eleventy billion times. Same thing with Station Eleven (did you read that? I loved it) and, of course, The Stand.

Fast forward to today, and guess what I did at lunch time? Or don’t. I went and got a Covid test. My kid’s school sent around one of those fun “we’ve had an exposure on campus” emails, so I took all our temperatures, and lo! there was I with a very low-grade fever. Combine that with a little scratchy throat and cough and boom, people poking brain-deep sticks up my nose. Fun!

Except, not. 

So, in light of recent experiences, here are three end-of-world scenarios I am no longer interested in reading about:

1. Asteroid impacts. Despite the fact that I could totally dig Morgan Freeman as president and Mary Robinette Kowal’s opening bit in her The Calculating Stars was just brilliant, I’ll take a pass on E.L.E. impacts, thanks. (You hear me, Apophis?)

2. Nuclear incidents. I’m not even re-watching Chernobyl. Honest.

3. And of course, pandemics. You’d think this one would be a given, but... so, there’s a board game called, amusingly enough, Pandemic, and it is actually kind of fun right now. Unlike passive entertainment like books and movies, in this game, players can work together and end the virus. That together part is the magic and the thing that humanity has so desperately failed at in real life. I guess I find it inspiring. Or hopeful?

So maybe I won’t be reading or watching the world end anytime soon, but the fantasy of humanity coming together is still alluring enough that, yeah, I will play the damn game. And win.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Three Artists Whose Works are My Current Obsession

Three Artists Whose Works are My Current Obsession:

Candy Cane Dragon by Rebecca Golins

1. Rebecca Golins of Dragons & Beasties
I've got a thing for dragons. When they're cute, I have no willpower. From coffee mugs to t-shirts to greeting cards, I have a whole lot of Becca Golins's dragons brightening up my days. I discovered her work on Redbubble, which led me to her Facebook page and then to her website.

Dance with the Devil by Abigail Larson

2. Abigail Larson
Winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Pro Artist, Abigail Larson's fantastically macabre works caught my eye on Twitter. Since then, I've been trying to convince myself that curtains from her Society6 store showing her demons and devils series are too indulgent. For now, I'll have to content myself with her Court of the Dead card game.

Black Dragon by Sandara

Feeding my dichotomous needs for works cute and menacing, artist Sandara's creations are inspiration pieces for one of my high fantasy series. Her dragons on DeviantArt got me hooked on the variety of illustrations she does. From dragons to angels to anthropomorphic forest creatures, Sandara doesn't stick to one style, but she is firmly in the fantasy genre. Skinning my laptop in with the black dragon from her Society6 store wasn't enough, I had to decorate my sister's tech too. Fairys riding Corgis, anyone?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Top Three..

 This week's topic is the Top Three Subject of your choice. ,]My subject? The top three things I'm working on right now.

Well. first, I just turned in Book Five of the Seven Forges series.  The tentative title, staying unless the publishers want it changed, is THE GODLESS. As soon as I can, I'll be starting book six of the series. 

Second up on the list of projects, I need to continue my collaborative novel with Charles R. Rutledge, THE TOURISTS' GUIDE TO HAUNTED WELLMAN. I'm enjoying the heck out if this project, as I virtually always enjoy working with Charles. It's a fun book and should be ready for release by October of next year. that sounds like a lot of time. It's really not. First thing I learned: There's never enough time. 

Third up, there's my collaborative novella with Christopher Golden. The third and final book in our BLOODSTAINED series, BLOODSTAINED NEVERLAND. We've already started, but we're nowhere near finished. As that one finishes the series, we need to wrap up a lot. And, of course, we're doing this with other projects going.

What other projects?  Well, in addition to what I've already mentioned, there's the short story promotional piece(s) that I'm writing to go with THE GODLESS, there are a few books to read for possible blurbs, there's the move. Yes, I'm moving. the truck should be here in two days and I've only just started packing my insanely crowded office. 

There are a  dozen more short stories I want to write, a novel proposal, a series proposal, a few things I need to edit for possible rerelease...

And somewhere along the way, I'd like a little downtime, but with the move going g on, the holidays right here and starting at a different Starbucks location in my near future, I'm kind of busy...

I hope you're all having amazing holidays!

Keep smiling,


Saturday, December 12, 2020

CHRISTMAS PRESENT by Kim Fielding Is a Holiday Joy to Read

Our topic this week is to promote something we’ve written or a book by someone else. My new novel won’t be out for another week or so (and I don’t do pre-orders because they stress me out) soooo, let me share one of my favorite holiday fantasy novellas, CHRISTMAS PRESENT by Kim Fielding, released in 2019. I re-read it when I need a happy little pick-me-up. It’s a very charming story and quite different. Heart warming.

The blurb: A modern gay-romance twist on Dickens.

Lewis loves his holiday job. As the Ghost of Christmas Present, he guides people to improve their lives. Sure, he’s a little lonely at home in Minnesota, but Fezziwig the cat keeps him company.

When Lewis is spirited to California one Christmas Eve, he meets Sammy, an ex-lawyer who seems to already have his life in order. Lewis and Sammy share Korean fried chicken and a brief fling, but distance and career obligations appear destined to thwart anything permanent.

Maybe this year, Lewis is due for a special gift of his own.

Ms. Fielding writes an ongoing gritty M/M Urban Fantasy series entitled The Bureau, as well as other standalone novels and I really enjoy those stories, but there’s something so special about the contemporary holiday romance short reads she does.

I first discovered her books when I was assigned to judge  THE LITTLE LIBRARY a few years ago for a now defunct contest. I loved it and immediately went in search of all her other books. Lots of good reading to be had.

They say to go with your first answer and as soon as I read this week's topic, her book came to mind, so let me wish you a peaceful and safe holiday season and happy reading!


Friday, December 11, 2020

New Releases: Crow's Curse & Fox and Willow

Holiday salutations to & from two of our former bloggers (and founding members back when we were still the Word Whores)! Laura Bickle and Allison Pang are making merry with new releases this month!

First Up: Laura Bickle's CROWS CURSE Vampire Urban Fantasy Trilogy

Crow’s Curse Collection contains the novellas Morrigan’s Blood, Morrigan’s Bite, and Morrigan’s Bond.

Garnet Conners has the blood of the legendary Morrigan, and there's no wrath like that of an angry goddess. Turned into a vampire against her will, Garnet takes sides with the witches in a war against the vampires...and there will be blood.

The Complete Crow's Curse series is now available in ebook and paperback...and free on KU!


Next: Allison Pang & Irma Aimo Ahmed's fairy tale graphic novel FOX & WILLOW: ALONG CAME A HARPER (Vol 1)

Just a meal and a place to sleep in the barn... When Jessa, the miller’s daughter, offers simple comforts to Willow and Gideon in return for a bit of work, the runaway princess and her fox spirit companion are more than willing to take Jessa up on it. After all, being on the road has its dangers, and the respite while they search for answers to Gideon’s cursed collar is more than welcome. But when the discovery of a murdered royal and a forsaken ghost comes to light, the two travelers realize they’ve stumbled into something far more sinister…


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Alexia's Guide to Holiday Book Giving ~ 2020!

9 books lined up. From left to right and then down: Where Dreams Descend, Broken Wish, Starting & Saving Seeds, Deception by Gaslight, These Violent Delights, Murder on Cold Street, Mistletoe & Mr. Right, A Ritchie Boy, and The Heir Affair

 Book Promo: shouting/beaming/gushing about your newly 
(or not so newly) released book in order to get people to know about it! 

I’m not going turn into a claymation wiseman and burst into song—I’ll save that torture for my sweet family—but we’ll see how I feel about promo-ing my own book come summer 2021 when THE MARS STRAIN releases on audio! 

What I am going to share with you today is a peek at my recent library haul that also doubles as a Guide To Holiday Book Giving

I had 19 books on hold for me—19! I either really impressed or shocked my local librarian…I’ll go with impressed. But hey, winter is coming to Minnesota and that means I must be stocked at all times. And now I know which books are going on my wish list! 

So, if you're looking for a book gift for someone check out these recs (genre is in bold and links to Goodreads for easy browsing). Enjoy!

THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by Chloe Gong is a Historical Fantasy that gives the classic Romeo and Juliet new life! The writing grips you from the very beginning and fills you with the character’s hate, love, and loyalty. I absolutely MUST own a hardcover copy of this book! 

DECEPTION BY GASLIGHT by Kate Belli is a Historical Murder Mystery with a twist on Robin Hood in the Gilded Age. Intrigued? You should be, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough for these two sleuths to solve the murder!!

MURDER ON COLD STREET by Sherry Thomas is book five in the Lady Sherlock series which are Historical Mysteries. I adore Charlotte Holmes and can't get enough of this brilliant, quirky character. If you enjoy Sherlock spins, you'll love these—though these really should be read in order.

MISTLETOE & MR. RIGHT by Sarah Morgenthaler is a perfect, quirky, funny, Contemporary Romance set in Alaska. Her writing makes you feel as if you're in the middle of nowhere gorgeousness and only waiting for a Growly Bear drink to appear in your hand. If you/your loved one need a laugh and some Christmas romance—this is it!

A RITCHIE BOY by Linda Kass is a WWII Historical Fiction based on the group of young men, mostly Jewish German-speaking immigrants, who were sent undercover to aid the Allies. An uplifting story about these selfless young men.

THE HEIR AFFAIR by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan is pure, Chick Lit fun. If you're looking for a little drama, love, backstabbing to take your mind off the same four walls you've likely been staring at for the past eight months—read this series.

WHERE DREAMS DESCEND by Janella Angeles is YA Fantasy that mashes up The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge with loads of magic! If any of that hits a high note with you—go buy this book! This is another MUST add to my personal library.

BROKEN WISH by Julie C. Dao is a YA Historical Fantasy—that's right, all that thrown into one glorious book! Magical powers, a Witch of the Wood, and in Dao's own words: a dark fractured fairy tale. Dao has quickly become one of my go-to authors as her writing never fails to transport me. The cover is beautiful, the words inside even better, which means—it's a must buy!

STARTING AND SAVING SEEDS by Julie Thompson-Adolf is my only Nonfiction rec, but it's a Gardening rec! If you or your loved one is in to growing things—and it's possible to be in to growing things and still not be great at it BTW—I've found this little gem full of helpful tips! 

Honorable Mention 

(because I didn't have the book handy to add in the picture

—but is great nonetheless!)

A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A. Brown is a YA Fantasy based on mythology. Brown's writing brought her West African mythology inspired world to life! So, so good and a high recommendation if YA fantasy is your thing.

Science Fiction—sci-fi thrillers are noticeably absent from my list this year. Can anyone help a girl out? Got any SF gift suggestions?

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Promo: The Lemon Juice and Paper Cut of Writing

Hey, guess what we're talking about this week on SFF Seven? 

Here's a hint: it's not being buried alive, snuggling with spiders, or non-consensual skydiving. But close!

It's promo. We're talking about promo. Specifically, we're supposed to promote ourselves or someone else. The latter isn't so bad. I mean, hey, social-media sharing of tasty new releases is one of my very favorite things. And every time I see a "can somebody rec a book that..." or "whatcha reading and liking?" question, I'm all over that. (Currently am reading Piranesi by Susanna Clarke and really liking it, but that's not surprising as her Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell was brilliant. Also stoked about recent release Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, and if you haven't read the teaser excerpt for that, I challenge you to do so and then not buy the book immediately. It's wow with whipped cream on top.)

So, yeah, promo for others is easy. It's fun. It makes me feel good. 

Promo for myself is like lugeing naked.

Or, as Miracle Max put it in my all-time favorite movie, "Why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?"

But, you know, official topic of the week. So here goes.

I've written some books. Some readers have enjoyed them, others maybe not so much, but most are still, huh you write books? If you are in that third category, you could check out my backlist.  This one is my favorite so far. It's about a sentient AI who just wants to be a good person and figure out some way to smooch her honey. Also possibly liberate machinekind.

Well, hey. Okay. That wasn't too terrible. 

Might even do it again someday. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

What If The School Janitor Was The Hero?

Did I get your attention with the headline? Bet you thought the janitor was a dude. Nah. DD Chance kicks off her fast-paced paranormal HFN romance series with a gal who doesn't take herself too seriously. While she doesn't feel the need to settle down Right Now, she isn't averse to sampling the guys-of-the-moment either. 

If you're up for a little paranormal mind-candy, give D.D. Chance's Tywst Academy series a try.

Book 1 of the Twyst Academy

Life at the academy just got… messy.

I’ve always dreamed of getting into a top college, but after a stint in juvie, my school prospects went sideways fast. Now I work at a magic academy…as a janitor. Ironic, right?

Okay, so maybe I get a kick out of secretly solving the arcane equations the professors leave on the board for the rich, entitled student wizards. I’m broke, not stupid.

Except then I get caught by the hottest mage on campus…who ropes me into helping him and his three equally gorgeous friends win a decidedly screwed-up magic competition.

Easy enough, I think—until I start setting things on fire and getting chased by smoke-faced monsters and fighting side by side with four of the sexiest, most powerful wizards ever…and find myself—just maybe—falling in love…

With all of them.


Note: This is a slow burn, New Adult paranormal academy romance, and book 1 of 4 in the completed Twyst Academy series.

BUY IT NOW:  Amazon

Monday, December 7, 2020

Christopher Golden's RED HANDS

 So this week we're supposed to promote ourselves or someone else, and I choose to promote Christopher Golden's latest, RED HANDS. This is the third in the Ben Walker series of books, but that doesn't matter. Each book is a standalone. The other books include ARARAT and THE PANDORA ROOM and all three are well worth the read!

You'll find the link in the name. 

HOWEVER, just in case you are undecided, you can also stop by Facebook tomorrow night and join Chris and Alma Katsu for a cyber-lunch party!

If you're looking for a very solid action adventure with a twist of the supernatural (and who isn't?) you should give RED HANDS a try, for yourself or as a Christmas/holiday gift!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Virtual Fantasy Romance Panel!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is to promote our stuff or someone else's. I can bop two birdies gently on the head (because I'm not a vicious murderer of wildlife) and share this super fun event! 

Saturday, December 12th @ 2pm EST
Are you a Fantasy or Sci Fi Romance Fan? Do we have the program for you! We welcome authors Jennifer EstepAmanda BouchetGrace Draven, and Jeffe Kennedy to Cary Library to talk all about their books, characters, world building, and friendship. They published an anthology together, Seasons of Sorcery, and it makes us wonder how an anthology comes into being. Hmmmm. 

Visit any of the author's websites for more information on their books, appearances, and FAQs!
Virtual Book Sale and Signing
Signed (personalization is not possible as all books - while supplies last - will have bookplates) books will be provided by Bank Square Books. When you are ready for checkout, write in the comment section that you would like the book(s) signed. 
Buy as many books as you want - even if you don't make it to the event!
Please register for this meeting and you will receive the program link in the confirmation and reminder notices - please check your spam folder for the emails and scroll to the bottom for the link. This program will be recorded with permission and we will upload it to our YouTube channel. We will also be livestreaming on FB! 

Contact us at caryprograms@minlib.net with any questions.   

Sponsored by the Cary Library Foundation.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Movies I Watch at This Time of the Year


Our topic this week is “holiday adjacent” movies, which I take to mean what movies do I associate with this time of the year.

In our house we always watched “Holiday Inn” with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire on Thanksgiving Day, after the dinner and the dish washing. We loved the singing and the dancing. Of course it’s a 1942 movie so certain portions of the movie are wildly inappropriate nowadays, culturally speaking and painful. We skip those. Some lovely Irving Berlin tunes though…I’m not a huge fan of the 1950’s remake “White Christmas.” I’m not a Danny Kaye fan for one thing and the various subplots don’t do much for me. I do tear up though – SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER -  when all the former soldiers come marching in to save the old general’s inn. I recently streamed the 2017 Broadway production of “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” and enjoyed that quite a bit although the plot was so different and I didn’t care for the heroine. She seems a lot less plucky than our gal of 1942.

For some reason the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies always say “Christmas” to me. Probably because they came out at that time of the year? Or maybe because there’s all that snow in “Fellowship”? Or because Rivendell seems to be in permanent autumnal state with all those falling leaves? At any rate, I usually watch all three movies at least once during the holiday time frame. As an aside, I will always believe the scene with Aragorn and Arwen on that bridge is the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen.

I adore “Scrooged”. OMG that’s a wonderful movie. Bill Murray at his finest and the various ghosts are terrific.

“ALL I Want for Christmas” from 1991 is another favorite in our family. Thora Burch, Harley Jane Kozak, Lauren Bacall (who sings!) and Leslie Nielsen as Santa Claus…

I like to watch the Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular dvd at least once during this aeason. Their precision is astonishing…

My late husband and I enjoyed “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” It was quite funny, over the top somewhat of course! But overall enjoyable….

And of course there’s the original “Miracle on 34th Street,” from 1947 with Maureen O’Hara, a very young Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn as (is he? Is he not?) Santa. SPOILER: expect magic. Of course!

I have to say last year’s “Christmas Chronicles” with Kurt Russell playing Santa as he’s never been portrayed before was GREAT. I was kind of bored by most of the movie frankly but not when he was on the screen and having Goldie Hawn in a surprise appearance as Mrs. Claus was the perfect touch. I haven’t watched the sequel as yet this year but I plan to.

When my daughters were little we used to watch the 1964 version of Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer, with Burl Ives singing. I don’t think it’s aged very well, in concept or in visuals but every now and then I’ll watch a few minutes of it for old times sake.

So there’s my list and I’ve probably forgotten something completely. Wishing you a very peaceful and safe holiday season!

Friday, December 4, 2020

Variation on a Holiday Theme

Movies. For the longest time, I took great joy in slipping away to the theater to watch whatever happened to be screening. We lived on military bases, which were only so big. My sister and I learned early the math of leaving the house and walking to the single screen theater for a matinee. Most of the movies are dusty and forgotten, now. Mostly because they deserved to be. A few still gleam in imagination. Unfortunately, all of this was before the migraine disorder dissected my love affair with the thrill of a darkened movie theater. This is the long way of telling you I don't have any holiday-ish movies for you. Screens are problematic. Whether it's the flicker or refresh rates of modern panel TVs, we'll never know. 

TV and movies went away shortly after I graduated from college. I do still go to movie theaters - well. I *did* before all of this plague nonsense. But I only go after someone I trust rates a movie good enough for a migraine. Far too few movies rise to that level. The English Patient did. Pirates of the Caribbean, too. Iron Man as well. Oh. And Wonder Woman, though I had a few plot issues with it and that is another rant entirely. What it means is that you can plainly see I'm not at all movie-literate at this point.

I realize no one asked, but it's not the holidays until Buddy Hackett freezes solid beneath the streets of New York City and has Bill Murray yelling at his corpse. Scrooged. It's Scrooged I love.

So if you want to talk about holiday adjacent music, instead, I might have some of that, but that's because I'm pagan and my definition of holiday-ish tunes may be unacceptably odd to anyone else. Naturally, Loreena McKennitt tops the list. She has two holiday themed albums, but one of them is specifically Christmas and the other is more solstice oriented and it is that one that has my affection. Nox Arcana has a creeptastic holiday-inspired album. It's not going to be chirpy, whistle-tone singers belting tunes, that's for certain. There's something about the end of the year that seems to inspire desperation in far too many people. It's as if the arbitrary time marker of 'end of the year' turns deadlines everyone had 12 months to accomplish into monsters hungry for flesh and blood. Yes. I'm thinking of my day job. And maybe I'm busy tech writing what ought to have been tech written six months ago, but who's counting? Decorating and cooking - while fun - can pile stress even higher. So I look for music that sets me to dreaming of sparkling snow drifting through the evergreens, and the stag spirits breathing steam into the frigid night. (Lest you think I miss cold northern winters, I don't. I miss the *idea* of them, but actual snow? No. Thank you. I'll deck the halls with tropical plants and a couple of reptiles, thanks. I like not having to wear socks.)

Holidays are about dreams and memories and traditions. Movies can't be a big part of my life anymore. So I rely on music to tell me the stories I miss out on otherwise.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Holiday Season Movie Viewing


DVD of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy on the cover—sitting on dark wood table top with an old DVD remote beside it.

It's pretty convenient that my writing get-away spot this week has not one...but TWO copies of Planes, Trains and Automobiles! And I'm talking the classic Steve Martin and John Candy one.

It must be serendipity....which is my ultimate top pick for a holiday movie and is the first destination I'll visit if I ever get to New York, but since Jim already listed Serendipity—I'll move on. 

There's also The Long Kiss Goodnight...again, that gem was picked by Jeffe on Sunday. The knife throwing is so fun!! 

You've Got Mail is another top contender. Meg Ryan's Shop Around the Corner is incredibly adorable and looks great decorated for Christmas. Shoot! Jeffe listed that one too!

Ooo! I've got a new one to watch! KAK suggested I Am Dragon and it looks so perfect for me! Fantasy romance...and there's a dragon. Yep, as soon as I get home, handsome, this is coming on.

I suppose that's already five flicks. As far as Christmas-movies go, my list is longer than Kris Kringle's. Clearly, there's work to be done on the Christmas-adjacent ones. So if you have any to suggest, let me know!  

I hope you all have a movie-filled ramp-up to the holiday season! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Christmas Movies That Aren't Necessarily

This week at SFF Seven, we're listing off our favorite movies that aren't about Christmas but happen to feature a midwinter setting or themes or something related. Think Die Hard, right. And some folks have already mentioned a couple that pop up for me right away: Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3. To all these I will add:

3. Gremlins. Hey, it's about finding that perfect gift and properly evokes all the anxiety of that fun process.

2. Trading Places. It's winter, the orange crop might have been frozen, and rich people are villains. Sounds like a Christmas to movie to me.

and most of all...

1. Edward Scissorhands. The ice sculpture scene where Edward makes snow. Oh, my heart! 

In related/adjacent news--you see what I did there?--we had our first almost-winter freeze last night, and I'm feeling particularly winter-wonderlandy and so have purchased a heated blanket and some German cherry wine-ish stuff that you're supposed to serve hot. Cheers to all, and stay cozy and warm!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Favorite Holiday-Adjacent Movie: I am Dragon

 Christmas (or similar holiday) adjacent movie that I love?

I Am Dragon

It's a charming YA Beauty and the Beast-ish Russian flick that has amazing costumes. It's not a blood, guts, and gore movie. Sure, there are villainous moments, but we're talking villain-lite. The scariest parts are in the trailer, so safe to use that as a guide for whether it's suitable for your kidlets.

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Holiday Next Door

 So the topic is Holiday Adjacent movies nd we're supposed to give a top five. 


First, I'll go with WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Why? Because the movie is incredible, number one, and because it does a wonderful job of showing how very differently we approach the big holidays depending on who we are with. Christmas and New Year's Day preparations change drastically as a result of who is present in the movie and I've seen and experienced the same in my life. 

Second, let's go with LETHAL WEAPON. Oh, I know everyone always says DIE HARD, but LETHAL WEAPON has a cheerful Christmas scenes playing out in the middle of a lot of murder and mayhem. It's also a genuinely fun testosterone-fueled flick. 

Of course, if we're talking testosterone I think we can safely add BATMAN RETURNS to the list. There's mention of mistletoe, there're penguins and snow and possibly even a candy cane or two. Heck, Danny DeVito as Oswald (the Penguin) Cobblepot is certainly reminiscent of Ebenezer Scrooge. 

Next up, I'd have to say LOVE, ACTUALLY is a great example of Christmas Adjacent, seeing as the third act takes place on and around the very holiday in question. It's also, frankly, just plain fun for me. 

Okay, one more then. SERENDIPITY a love story that has no particular focus on Christmas but also ends during the holiday season and gives me the warm-fuzzies. Oh, I know, I'm all about the bloodshed and carnage but there are exceptions to every rule. I'm an old softy when it comes to the holidays. In fact, my absolute all-time favorite movie is IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It has a positive message, but as an added bonus, there's a thick vein of horror running through the entire thing. 

May your holidays be filled with joy!


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Jeffe's Top Five Christmas-Adjacent Movies

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is our favorite Christmas-adjacent (or other holiday-adjacent) movies. Now, I'm a Christmas-loving gal, so if you don't celebrate or don't care, feel free to skip. This will not be on the final.

All right! Now, if you are like me and love to add Christmas movies to the general celebrating, but maybe get tired of the movies that focus SOLELY on Christmas - not that there's anything wrong with those! - then you might like some of these Christmas-adjacent movies. They're not Christmas movies in any real sense, but they include Christmas in awesome ways.

Also, I suggested this topic because I'm always looking for more Christmas-adjacent movies. (NOT Die Hard, people.) So, I'm looking forward to what my bordello-mates suggest - and please tell me yours!

In reverse order, my Top Five Christmas-adjacent movies.

#5    Mean Girls

What? I *told* you these aren't actual Christmas movies! Mean Girls is almost an honorable mention, but I have to include it because of the classic sexy-Santa-in-red-latex dance. Also, this is a brilliant movie that deserves a rewatch anyway.

#4    You've Got Mail

The Christmas scenes in this movie capture all the wonderful nostalgia of the season. The original movie, The Shop Around the Corner, had a stronger Christmas focus and is totally worth watching, too.

#3    Iron Man 3

Tony shopping for a gift for Pepper? Trying out a new suit to the tune of Jingle Bells? Yes, please! Also the Christmas setting provides glittering contrast to the story. 

#2    The Long Kiss Goodnight

Seems like not many people saw - or appreciated - this one, but I love Geena Davis as a kickass spy who goes from sweet, amnesiac wife and mom to lethal superagent. All at Christmas time. Plus Samuel L. Jackson. More ironic Christmas cheer for the win!

#1    Bed of Roses

Sometimes I feel like the only person who saw and LOVED this movie. I saw it in the theater twice, and have had it on VHS since then. It's one of my favorite romances, and the juxtaposition of the emotional pressure of Christmas and family make the love affair even more poignant. Plus, contains the line from Pamela (Segall) Adlon, "I'm a Jewish Elf." 

Now, hit me with suggestions! What Christmas-adjacent movies should I be watching???

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Gratitude Attitude

 “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault


“Got no checkbooks, got no banks, still I’d like to express my thanks. I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.” Irving Berlin

Friday, November 27, 2020

Gratitude is Riches

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.

Doris Day


The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, November 26, 2020


The more grateful I am,

The more beauty I see.

~Mary Davis

For our readers in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! During this Thanksgiving week we like to reflect on the many things we're thankful for. 

It's easy to pick out what's not going well or the failures that keep us from where we want to be. It takes an effort to look on the bright side. And while I believe it can be good to let yourself wallow for a bit, afterward it's even more important to take stock of the good things. 

It doesn't have to be all big things either! I was thankful for my cup of coffee this morning and I'll be thankful for a glass of wine tonight. Right now I'm incredibly thankful for my friends who keep me going—even better than caffeine—and help build me up when I've been torn down. 

Thank you my friends for being there. And thank you to our readers for giving us your time each day! I hope you all have a thankful weened!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Some wise quotes about gratitude

I have one main thanksgiving-type quote, but it seemed kind of simple and not super weighty or thoughty, so I turned to Google and found some really good ones: 

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." —Willie Nelson

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." —Oprah Winfrey

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." —A.A. Milne

“ ‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” —Alice Walker

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama

“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”—Vietnamese Proverb

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.”—Gertrude Stein

Humans can be so wise. I'm human, but  not always wise. My personal go-to quote is unattributed and unattributable, though I say it almost constantly. And not to put myself anything like on the level of these deep thinkers and talented folks, I'll just sneak it here at the end. Here goes:

"Thank you." --me

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Thankfulness and Gratitude

In this week of being consciously thankful and grateful, this quote by Henri Frederic Amiel reminds me that my thoughts and deeds are concentric circles creating ripples in the Universe. What flows out, flows back. Let kindness inform the intention and compassion shape the action.

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2020

Thank you.

 It's Thanksgiving time in the US. We are supposed to post about the most profound and simplest statement of gratitude that we can think of. 

Thank you seems to cover that pretty well. It's amazing to me how many people have trouble with those two words. They're almost as rare as I'm Sorry. But it's easy to forget, isn't it? When the world is doing its best to me you lower your head and push past the inconveniences, the fights, the squabbles, and protests? The world does that. It gets us into trouble. Politically speaking I don't have to look any further than the current president of these United States to see an example of selfishness personified. I don't care what side of the political coin is yours, it's just pathetic to see. 

We have a plague wiping out hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. We have had a season of truly epic hurricanes and tropical storms. We have seen millions of acres of land burned and destroyed this year, and heatwaves that are epic continue to hit the planet. In a time when we should be seeking unity, were have a virtual army of buffoons who can't wear a mask without throwing fits about their freedoms being taken away, and we have armies if, well, gun-happy clowns, running around carrying their weapons and doing their best to look intimidating. 

It's easy to see the negatives, isn't it? It always is. 

And yet, there are a million reasons to say thank you. I was silent here for over a year, because I woke up one morning with a growth on the side of my neck that turned out to be cancer of the tonsil. It was fast-acting and it could easily have killed me. I had doctors taking their own sweet time in making appointments for me to see specialist after specialist, while I struggled to continue breathing, while I found out the hard way that eating is damned near impossible when you can't swallow. 

But I had one young man who listened when I said I couldn't;t wait two more weeks to see the next specialist. He took the time to called around and got me an appointment at 8 am the very next day. That appointment got me in the hospital the same day, and got the machinations started to aggressively treat my cancer. I had people outside of the hospital who got me financial help in the form of a GoFundMe site. I would have never even considered that option. 

I got financial help when I needed it most. I got treatment for my cancer. I got help from literally hundreds of people, many of whom I never met, who had no reason to offer me help, aside from simply being kind-hearted.  They helped me, when there was nothing in it for them. 

How amazing is that?

Listen, it's not perfect. My health is not what it used to be. They mean it when they say the treatment for cancer is damned near as bad as the cancer itself. It's brutal, and it's nearly crippling. My heart is not the same. My body has suffered debilitating side effects. But you know what? I'm alive and currently cancer free. I've lost 70 plus pounds, had a few teeth pulled, and I spent six months with chemo brain stopping me from writing virtually anything at all. 

But I'm still here. 

I have a lot to be thankful for. More than I can express. 

As I said last year, I have so much to be thankful for and truly I am blessed. 

And all I can say is Thank You. 

I can never repay the debts, but I'm trying to pay it forward. 

And I hope I never find a reason to forget to say Thank You. 


Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Simplest and Most Profound Expression of Gratitude

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is our favorite quote of gratitude. Mine is very simple - and profound enough that it's shaped much of my life.


No, not why is it simple and profound, etc. The quote is exactly that:


I learned this from my favorite college professor, who was also my major adviser in Comparative Religious Studies. (He identified as a non-practicing Orthodox Jew, which - if you know much about Judaism - tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him.) He said that our tendency as human beings is to question misfortune. When we get sick, or a loved one dies, or some other terrible misfortune befalls us, we turn our eyes to the heavens and ask why?
Why me?

Why them?

Why did this have to happen?

But, when good fortune comes our way - when we succeed in our efforts, when the people we love are still there when the next day arrives, even when we continue to be healthy and able-bodied - we don't ask why. We don't beseech the heavens with questions like:

Why am I so lucky to be healthy?

Why do I have such a comfortable life?

Why do these wonderful people and animals love so much?

This came as a huge revelation to my 18-year old self, and I have to remind myself constantly to ask those questions. It's a profound exercise in gratitude to look at my life and question why I'm so very blessed.
Along with this comes questioning my success as an author. It's easy to focus on my failures, to bemoan why I don't get everything I set out to do. Even easier is to congratulate myself for success, as if it's entirely due to my own efforts, rather than serendipity. So, I'm giving particular thanks for these badges of great fortune. UNDER A WINTER SKY has done brilliantly this week, and I couldn't be more grateful.

In this case, I don't have to ask why, because I know it's because of all of you. Thank you.