Chestnuts Roasting Anthology

It’s that time of year everyone. The time when it’s entirely too cold outside for this Southern girl’s liking. The time when people start spending more time with families. And the time when all of the amazing winter and holiday themes stories start coming out. This Mischief Corner anthology, Chestnuts Roasting, will be out Thanksgiving morning. Just in time for you to have something exciting to read when you are too full to move and actually do something. I had a chance to interview one of the authors from the Mischief Corner anthology and it was fun having Freddy MacKay answer. After the interview read all about the books, and an excerpt from Freddy’s story in the anthology. At the very bottom enter for a chance to win one of two prize packs; $25.00 gift card (choice of Amazon or ARe) and a choice of Tote or Mug from the MCB Redbubble store (choice of graphic); or $5.00 gift card (choice of Amazon or ARe) and choice of sticker from the MCB Redbubble store.

Freddy MacKay: Hi, everyone! This is Freddy MacKay from Mischief Corner Books. I am one of the authors in the Christmas anthology this year, called Chestnuts Roasting Anthology. I am the sacrifice for today’s blog questions, I mean I’m the volunteer. 😉 I want to thank Amanda for having me. It was fun to drop by.
Amanda C. Stone: Good morning Freddy! Thank you for being today’s “volunteer”. We’re going to have fun today because I’m asking some holiday themed silly questions. So which of Santa’s reindeer is your favorite, and why?
Freddy MacKay: Dancer, because who doesn’t want to be a dancing queen?
ACS: Ooh! I’d love to see some of your dance moves. Santa is now allergic to cookies and milk. What will you leave out for him instead?
FM: That’s a lot to be allergic to. Hm. No dairy. No gluten. No eggs. I’m gonna have to say…. Channa Masala. He could use the energy boost while delivering all those presents. *nods*
ACS: Santa thanks you for your kind thoughts of food to give him energy (Mrs. Clause thanks you as well). Make up a whole new verse of “12 Days of Christmas”.
FM: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a fifty-five inch wide TV… *cause I really want one
ACS: I am a fan of your verse. If you don’t get one feel free to come watch shows on my new TV. Our old one died so we got a nice shiny new one! You can only give one present this year, and you are giving it to everyone. What do you give?
FM: Caramel popcorn. It’s what we make every year to give to work colleagues, neighbors, and whomever tracks us down and demands it. The popcorn really brings people together. *nods*
ACS: I love caramel popcorn. It’s so delicious. Good pick for a holiday present. Last question and it’s not really a question. It’s either ors! Wrapping paper or gift bags?
FM: Wrapping paper.
ACS: Real tree or artificial?
FM: Real tree.
ACS: Spiked eggnog or plain eggnog?
FM: Neither. It’s gross.
ACS: Blinking lights or non blinking lights?
FM: Both. It’s fun to watch the OCD in my family have a fit over this.
ACS: And finally, a partridge in a pear tree. Wait, no. Wrong question. Traveling for the holidays or staying home?
FM: Depends. It really does.
ACS: Thank you for being here today Freddy. I loved having you!

Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it’s only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles.

Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 – Toni Griffin
Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.

A Christmas Cactus for the General – Angel Martinez
Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.

Holly Jolly – Silvia Violet
I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it?

I’m also not a fan of Christmas. Too many years “celebrating” with my Bible-thumping family ruined the holiday for me. So what if I envy all these cheerful souls dashing about with smiles on their faces? I don’t have to like Christmas, do I? If anyone could get me in the Christmas spirit, it would be Dane with his easy, relaxed manner and his gorgeous smile. If that were going to happen, though, I’d have to find the courage to talk to him and to admit that maybe I don’t know myself all that well after all.

Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay
Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.

Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.

From Snow on Spirit Bridge by Freddy MacKay
There should be snow. Lots of it. Moreover, it should be below freezing with clouds, not this sunny and fifties crap. People should be huddled together and hurrying to get inside. It didn’t feel like Christmas otherwise.

With a sigh, Finni glanced around the train platform.

If he’d been home in Chicago, snow would blanket the streets and salt would crunch under his feet. Shop windows with mannequins would line the Magnificent Mile with Christmas winter scenes. The tree would be up at his parents’, decorated with bright lights and homemade ornaments he and his siblings made over the years. One or two presents would lie under the tree as a teaser for the younger cousins. Warm drinks would be waiting for him as he stepped through the door and brushed the snow off his coat. His family would smile at him and voices would call out to him.

If he’d been home in Chicago.

Tokyo wasn’t home.

A big, bustling city, yes, but not home.

As people hurried from one shop to the next, got on and off the trains, and ran about in their jackets and sweaters, Tokyo couldn’t have been farther from home. Yes, decorations were up at cake shops and at the department stores, but they weren’t the same. The plastic Christmas trees seemed more likely to come alive and hunt people down than give off a relaxing pine scent. They didn’t give off the same cozy family feeling Finni connected with. Everything was geared toward couples.

Since when was Christmas about couples?

A pang of loneliness ate at Finni’s gut. All he wanted was his parents, his brothers and sisters, and his cousins, aunts, uncles, and some snow. He needed to see everyone was happy and okay. Was that too much to ask for?

A chilled wind blasted Finni, and he looked up, expecting the train, but nothing rattled down the tracks. Other people grabbed their coats and hunched. Some young girls squealed and huddled closer to each other. Finally, a shiver wracked Finni, clueing him in to the unusual temperature drop.

Temperatures had plummeted from the fifties to almost thirty since he’d arrived on the platform, not normal weather. In only a T-shirt, even Finni felt the cold.

Finni sighed, closed his eyes, and concentrated on sunshine and warm thoughts. He almost laughed under the circumstances. The people would think he was odd and leave an even bigger circle around him. One more oddity to make Finni miss home even more.

The swoosh and rattle of a train making its way down the tracks caused Finni to open his eyes, watching expectantly with the others.

About damn time. Usually the trains didn’t run late unless something untoward happened. Like a jumper, which occurred more often than Finni comprehended. He risked a glance around and saw the people more relaxed, the extreme temperature flux now gone, just an oddity to discuss among themselves.

The train hissed to a stop, the doors popped open, and everyone hurried on, ready to leave the unusual drop in temperature behind them. While the men and women bumped into each other, the girls giggling as they passed Finni, he still got a wide berth as he ducked through. The crowd moved and swayed in a loose circle around him until Finni got to his spot by the doors and faced the window.

Once again, the seat next to him remained empty, no one sitting down even though the train was packed. Not every foreigner got quite the same treatment he did, but his size—not to mention the blond hair and blue eyes—made people’s reaction to him more extreme. Finni ignored the slight, though it stung more than it had the past couple of months. He’d learned not to notice when people stared or jumped in surprised when they looked up at him or moved away as soon as they noticed him after they sat down. Better to stay quiet and pretend nothing happened than draw attention to the behavior. It only made things worse.

Except today, the unfounded fears of the people he’d rode the train with since his move mid-October dug into him like claws. He sighed, leaned against the windows, and closed his eyes, exhausted.

Sleep wasn’t easy lately. Nightmares waited for him, ones that made it harder to be away from his family. He yawned, fighting off the weariness, but the rocking of the train called to him like a siren to a sailor.

No matter the direction he looked in, Finni only saw white. The snow beat down on him as he cried out. Torrents of wind spiraled all around him, the weather mimicking his heart.

Why hadn’t anyone come? The sky was dark. Someone should have found them by now. He trembled in the cold and felt so tired. He just wanted to sleep.

But he couldn’t. Not yet.

Finni tried to call out, but his voice had given out long before the sun went down.

He clutched Gunder to him. Realization had finally sunk in, but as he sniffed, Finni knew he’d never let Gunder go. No matter what.

He should’ve kept up with him. Kept Gunder in his sights, but his brother ran so much faster than he did. His legs were so long and big compared to Finni’s scrawny ones. Someday, he’d be bigger than Gunder, though, he just knew it. Then he’d be able to outrun his brother.

When they were grown up, three years wouldn’t be that big of a difference in age.

“Hear that, Gunder?” Finni asked in a whisper, pressing his face against his brother’s. “I’m going to be bigger than you someday. Be able to run faster. So…so…so…”

He broke down, sobs torn from his chest. How did they get home? Finni just wanted Mom and Dad. He just wanted to go home with Gunder.

“Mom!” His voice barely made it out, but he had to try. “Dad! Somebody!”

Nothing. He was alone. All alone.

Mom. Dad. I don’t want to be alone.

He screamed and the wind picked up, whipped around him in a cyclone. The temperature dropped farther.

“Finni! Gunder!”

Who was that?

“Finni! Where are you boys?”

“Gr-gr-grandpa?” Guilt warred with hope. He should hide. Everyone was gonna be mad. So, so mad. They’d never like him again.

The wind’s moaning stopped. The snowflakes stirred no more. Grandpa’s huge, hulking figure appeared.

“Grandpa,” Finni cried out. The hiccups came as he tried to get it all out. “G-G-Gunder fell through the ice… I-I-couldn’t reach him. Gunder…he… I-I-tried to g-g-get us home.”

“Oh, oh. Oh, Finni,” his grandpa said quietly. Tears ran down his cheeks.

Oh no. Grandpa was mad.

“My little boy.” Grandpa wrapped his big arms around them and kissed his forehead. “My poor boys.”

Finni wailed, and the snow picked back up.

Story Time:

About The Authors:
Mischief Corner Books is an organization of superheroes… no, it’s a platinum-album techno-fusion group…no, hold on a sec here…

Ah, yes. Mischief Corner is a diverse group of authors who met on a mountain in Tennessee and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we’d settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead.

In addition to making mayhem, we publish books with a diverse range of genres and topics… we live to break molds.

MCB. Giving voice to LGBTQ fiction.
Mischief Corner Books Website and Store:
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Pre-Order Links:
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Tour Stops:
20-Nov: Amanda C. Stone, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
21-Nov: Parker Williams
24-Nov: Love Bytes, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
25-Nov: Hearts on Fire
26-Nov: BFD Book Blog
27-Nov: MM Good Book Reviews
28-Nov: Velvet Panic
1-Dec: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Molly Lolly
2-Dec: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Cate Ashwood
3-Dec: My Fiction Nook, Queer Town Abbey, Prism Book Alliance
4-Dec: Multitasking Mommas, Cathy Brockman Romances

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  1. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    Hi Angel’s Twitter account buttons not working?

    My best Christmas memories are when I was very young we used to visit my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Christmas they had four children and sister it was so much fun. They always had a big Christmas tree and it always seemed to have piles and piles of Christmas present beneath it.

  2. We’re fixing it – transposed letter 🙁 Thank you, Shirley Ann!

  3. Thank you for having me, Amanda! It was wonderful to stop by.

  4. H.B. says:

    Sounds like an awesome anthology.

    As a child my family didn’t celebrate Christmas. It pretty much past as any old day.

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