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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


As promised today is part two of the interview of anthology authors, Winter Kisses, released yesterday, December 21, 2009, from Noble Romance Publishing. Winter Kisses is five sweet stories about love blossoming over the holidays.

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GRACEN: Do you have any holiday traditions like decorating your house, having house parties, making cookies etc.?

DENA: I get my menorah set up and buy my candles. I’m learning how to make potato latkes (potato pancakes), and I also make a mean brisket. I like to be surrounded with my friends and family at this time of year. It’s a good time to be together and share the warmth and love between us.

KELLY: Yes, Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. It's hilarious, especially cousin Eddie with his black dickey showing through his white shirt and his super tight pants. My favorite Christmas character is Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

GRACEN: Do you have any Christmas traditions like decorating your house, having house parties, making cookies etc.?

KELLY: We put up a fiber optic Christmas tree and lights around the outside of the house. I put up stockings for everyone, including the dogs. We don't get too crazy with the decorating though. It's too much to unpack and then put away. I do love to unpack the ornaments and enjoy the memories attached to each one. And it's not officially Christmas until I get out my singing Yukon Cornelius. It freaks the dogs out every year. LOL

GRACEN Even if you don’t put one up, do prefer real or artificial trees? Why? Have you ever made your own presents or decorations? If so, what were they? Were they successes or failures? Did you have fun while making them?

DENA: I have to admit that I adore the smell of pine trees. It’s sharp and pungent and has a relaxing effect on me. I’ve made gifts for the people I love before, mostly handmade cards. Unfortunately for the last year or so I haven’t had the time and energy necessary to make them. Still, my favorite decoration that I made myself was a Star of David when I was about twelve with one of those kits with the tiny plastic rings that you set in a design and then iron to melt them together.

KELLY: I would love to have a real tree, but they can be a pain to deal with so I prefer an artificial one. The new fiber optic trees are beautiful. I did make gifts one year for the family. The duct tape wallets I made for the guys were a huge hit. My brother wanted another one when that one wore out. It was kind of hard to make them. The duct tape kept getting stuck to me in various places, but I still had fun doing it.

GRACEN: What foods will be at your holiday celebration this year? What is the most unusual food that you saw at a feast? Would you eat the fruitcake or use it as a doorstop?

DENA: Chanukah is all about the oil, since God made the oil for one night last for eight instead! So fried foods, saturated foods, all work really well. I love potatoes, so the potato pancakes are one of my favorite things. I can’t say that I’ve ever tried fruitcake…but from what I’ve heard it’s an experience!

GRACEN: Do you send out greeting cards to your friends and family? Why or why not? What greeting do you like to see on the greeting cards you send? On the ones you receive? (For example, “Merry Christmas”, “Season’s Greetings”, etc.)

DENA: I send cards out to the people I know and care about, yes. I try to pick a card that will fit the person I’m sending it to, so a Christmas card for those who celebrate it, a Season’s Greetings card for my Pagan friends (it’s hard to find a Yule card!), and in general something that reflects that I care and think about them. I appreciate any card I get! Yes, I’m Jewish, but not everyone may know that, so I take things with the intention they were given in.

GRACEN: Do you celebrate Christmas on the Eve or Day? Who, if anyone, in your family plays Santa Claus? Does he hand out the presents or do they just “magically” appear under the tree? How do you handle presents that just don’t fit under the tree?

KELLY: We celebrate Christmas Eve with my family—parents, siblings, etc., but my husband and I have our own special Christmas on Christmas morning. The dogs always get so excited because they know there are presents in the stockings for them. In our house, I am Santa and the gifts magically appear under the tree to the amazement of my husband. LOL He does surprise me sometimes though with a really cool gift. A couple of years ago he bought me the DVD set of all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was so happy.

GRACEN: Other than money (because who doesn’t want more of that), what would your ultimate gift be?

DENA: My ultimate gift? Wow. Probably a Nook! I saw (thanks to my boyfriend) the Nook almost the first day BN had a page for it, and I’ve been drooling for one ever since. That would be the best!

KELLY: I could really use about a million dollars, but my ultimate gift is a horse. I always wanted a horse. I will settle for a laptop this year though. Did you hear that Santa? LOL




When Brianna decides to attend the Winter Solstice masquerade ball, she never thought she would end up kissing a handsome knight beneath the mistletoe, but they part without exchanging names and phone numbers—how will they find each other again?


She couldn't move her mouth at first, allowing his lips to capture her mouth in a thrilling crush. His forceful yet tender kiss awakened something inside her. She forgot who she was or that she was kissing a stranger. Her head spinning, she surrendered to the kiss.

His hand cradled the back of her head and she was aware of the slight scratch of stubble tickling her face. The kiss between them grew more passionate and she almost dropped her cup, the only thing keeping their bodies from touching.

The heat from his body still reached her, sending a flush to every part of her body. His sword sheath stabbing into her hip excited her, quickening her pulse. The rest of her body responded to his fiery kiss, her breasts tingling and heaving. She wanted to stay like that, to feel a man's lips giving her so much pleasure again.

"Okay guys, get a room already." A reveler laughed and ducked into the bathroom.

She stepped away from him, the magical moment broken. Blushing, she avoided eye contact with him.

Places Kelly Heckart can be found on the internet:


GRACEN: Now, let’s get to their writing. Why the holiday genre? What was the draw for you?

DENA: I wanted to explore my faith on a different level. This gave me a good reason to delve deep about my own feelings and wishes for the pinnacle of what Chanukah can be.

GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

DENA: Sensual. Even though Love in the Lights is a sweet story, I try to engage the senses, where every touch is intense, and every smell is something delicious.

KELLY: My stories center on a romance, but they aren't the gushy kind of romances. I am fascinated with the ancient Celts and their myths so these find their way into my stories. I draw on some of the Celtic myths like the Tuatha de Danaan or the Irish Fianna (fierce warriors with hearts of poets) and add my own spin. My stories are filled with conflict, sometimes betrayal and there is also a magical element in my tales. My heroines are bold, my heroes always have long hair. Like real life, there is laughter, but sometimes they can go to a dark place, but I always have at least a HFN ending. My catchphrase is 'Timeless tales of romance, conflict and magic. Meet her bold women, fierce warriors and otherworldly creatures.'

GRACEN: With the current movement to encourage people to give books as gifts, what, in your opinion, makes your story unique? What makes it stand out among all the others?

DENA: Well, I haven’t seen many Chanukah stories, and that I think is something that sets it apart right from the beginning. But I try to meld information about the holiday with a sense of love and family that goes beyond just romance. It’s about tradition and connection and coming home as much as it’s about the romance of the two main characters.

KELLY: I think I write unusual romances because my stories involve deeper issues like religion, the difficulty of maintaining a long-term relationship and difficult choices, sacrifice. My stories don't follow a certain formula for romance. I like to write stories that help readers escape from reality and take them on new adventures into mysterious time periods.

GRACEN: Do you prefer throwing snowballs or serving hot cocoa? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

DENA: I prefer hot cocoa! I think it does show in that most of my writing tends to take place indoors, and there’s a lot of emotional growth for my characters. It’s not all about the action, but it’s also not dull. And there are lots of marshmallows!

KELLY: Well, I like both. I used to love getting into snowball fights and I still love serving and drinking a cup of hot cocoa. I think they both show through in my writing. I can write gritty battle scenes, but I can also write a tender scene. I can think of one in an upcoming release. Both my hero and heroine are warriors. As they prepare for battle, she serves him a mint tonic to settle his stomach. It's a touching moment between the two, but then they are heading out to kill people. LOL

GRACEN: Who decides what your characters do, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one stuffing the stocking?

DENA: It depends on the story and where I am in it, but in this one I had a lot of control. I was experiencing the story on a very deep level, and yet the inspiration just kept coming, so I assume my muse was just in agreement with where I was going. Still, there were a few surprises that came my way!

GRACEN: What character did you have the most fun creating and why?

DENA: Probably Rosie Bloch. She’s a quintessential Jewish mother, with an eye for what’s happening, but with a lot of love for her kids. She’s warm, a good hostess and an awesome cook. When you’re in her house, you’re family.

KELLY: I had the most fun creating Morgaine in White Rose of Avalon. It was a challenge because she is kind of the villain in the story because she will do anything to save Avalon even sacrifice the man she loves. She is a strong woman (otherworldly being), but I still wanted to give her some compassion. I like to write my villains in shades of gray because I believe there are two sides to every story. Most readers will see her as the villain, but she loved Avalon. So, is she evil for wanting to save the place she loves?

GRACEN: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why?

DENA: That’s a tough one. I’d like to meet Danielle, I think, Abigail’s niece. She was a pistol every time she came through in the story, and I had a lot of fun when she was in the room!

GRACEN: Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

DENA: In this story? I don’t think there’s one I wouldn’t ever want to meet. While some were a bit more challenging in the beginning of the tale, they are all interesting, unique and people I would love to be around.


Abigail Bloch has been away at school for the last few years. Returning to her mother’s home renews her interest and need for the Jewish traditions. Unfortunately, the man who had been her best friend growing up, Joshua Cohen, gives her a chilly reception. Over the course of Chanukah, a time filled with food and family and friendship, the growing number of flames must melt away hostility and illuminate the love that can grow between them.


Chapter One – Night One

“Baby! You’re home!” Abigail Bloch’s mother grabbed her in a warm, tight hug. She dropped her gym bag onto the porch swing and returned her mother’s hug. The familiar scent of home, cinnamon-sugar and matzo ball soup, surrounded her.

“Hey Mama. Yeah, I’m home. I’d like to breathe sometime soon though.” Tugged inside by her firecracker of a mother, her ears rang at the blast of noise coming from the kitchen. “Sorry I’m late, but the bus had a breakdown. I was stuck in Atlanta for a couple hours before they switched to a different one to get down here.”

“That’s okay. Everyone’s here already and I made all your favorites! It’s not every mother who can say her daughter made the President’s List!” Rosie Bloch raved as she led Abi through the house. She tossed her bag into the open entrance of her room.

“It’s no big deal Mama. Really. Are the latkes all ready?” Warm, flaky, perfectly fried. No one made those potato pancakes like her Mama.

“Of course! And I made extra since we’re hosting the dinners this year.”

Abi groaned. That meant all their close friends and any family in the area would be there.

“Great. That’s just…lovely Mama.” Somehow she’d endure the crowd, and there was nothing her mother liked more than showing off her skills in the kitchen.

“Oh, Joshua took off of work for the holiday too! He’s such a good boy. Have you kept in touch with him like I asked you to?”

Abi winced.

“Sorry Mama, there just really hasn’t been time. You know how crazy school has been for me. Sleep and studying were more of a priority.”

“Oh well, it doesn’t matter now. He’s in the kitchen. Go set the extra tables up, would you?” With that said, her mother rushed off to deal with some vaguely familiar-looking people across the room she assumed were neighbors she hadn’t seen in a long time.

Abi walked to the kitchen, automatically stepping over toys she figured her sister’s kids had left strewn over the floor. The intense scents of potato pancakes, soup and kugel were insanely good. She couldn’t wait to get some food in her system. It had been hours since her last meal.

“Oomph!” Abi caught herself against the wall as a large male body backed out of the kitchen and turned straight into her. “You got that okay?” She reached out and grabbed the arms balancing the platter

She looked up to see the boy she’d known best growing up, the one who she thought had known her inside-out. “I’m so sorry Joshua. Wow, you’ve grown…taller.”

She knew she was being a bit cheeky, but couldn’t help it.

“Yeah. That happens when you grow up. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go put this down.” Shivering at his response, Abi looked after him in confusion. Wonder what his problem is.

The clamor of her Nana, sister and sisters-in-law in the kitchen drew her out of her thoughts and back into the action. “Guys, where’s the other table cloth? Mama wants me to set up another table for the food. Holy cow, what’s she making?”

There were pots everywhere, and casserole dishes covered in foil lined the island in the middle.

“Abi!” “Angel face!” “Hey there!” The chorus of greetings spun her head but Abi hugged everyone in turn.

She pushed her sleeves up above her elbows with a smile. “Guess it’s time to put me to work, huh?”


“Aunt Abi! It’s time to light the candles! Come on!”

Abi quickly put her plate down on the nearest flat surface as her niece dragged her to the table in front of the window. She stood there as her mother led the kids in taking out the two candles needed, explaining about the shammas candle, which was always used to light all the other candles, and where to place the first Chanukah candle.

As she said the familiar prayers, the skin on the back of her neck prickled. She turned to the side to find Joshua Cohen staring right at her. She caught his gaze and smiled at him, but once again he stabbed her with an icy glare.

A pang of hurt and lots of confusion ruled her thoughts. What had she done to prompt such a cold response? She hadn’t been the best at keeping in touch, but then, neither had he. She understood how busy he was as a lawyer, even if it was at a small firm. Why was he so mad at her?

She gazed at the lit candles as the crowd around her dissipated. The lights were so beautiful, and the antique silver menorah cast the glow all around the table. The menorah was only for pleasure, to be looked at and not used for anything more useful than that, and Abi let the simple beauty of the flames entrance her.

Rubbing her hands over the knee-length skirt she wore, Abi glanced around the room. It was so good to be home again.

“How’ve you been doing, sweetie?” Her sister Anne slung an arm around her shoulders.

“Oh, I could be worse. Any idea why Joshua is acting like I shot his dog?”

“Well, it could be because you went so far away. He was your best friend, and then you were gone. I don’t know. You could always ask him. Goodness knows you’ll be seeing him often enough since Mama’s hosting.” Abi leaned into her sister.

“Maybe. As it is, it’s hard coming back after so much time away. I mean, three years! I think I’m going to wait until he comes to me. If I can stand it that long.” Abi was determined that he would realize that she could still be a part of her hometown community, and hadn’t given her place away just because she’d gone away to experience school and the world.

“Well, let’s nosh some more. When all else fails, there’s food!” Abi laughed and let Anne drag her back to the table filled with brisket, roasted chicken and all kinds of goodies.

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1 Moonbeams (comments):

Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thank you to these authors & Gracen for sharing here today. It was a fun & interesting interview.
Merry Christmas!