Blurbs & Author Bios
Gracious Living Magazine Says It Has to Be a Live Tree by Killian B. Brewer: Determined to make his first Christmas with his new boyfriend magazine-perfect, Marcus seeks the advice of lovable busy bodies, the Do-Nothings Club. When he learns that his boyfriend, Hank, may have ordered a ring, Marcus’ attempts to transform his home into a winter wonderland get out of hand. Featuring the characters from Lunch With the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette.
Killian B. Brewer lives in his life-long home of Georgia with his partner and their dog. He has written poetry and short fiction since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Brewer earned a BA in English and does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He has a love of greasy diner food that borders on obsessive. Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette was published in January, 2017. His debut novel, The Rules of Ever After, is available from Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press. Website | Twitter
True North by Pene Henson: Shay Allen returns to her hometown in Montana for the holidays with her best friend Devon with the intent to return home to L.A. by New Year’s Eve. Instead, the weather traps them in the small town, but the there’s a bright spot: her old crush Milla is still in town.
Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Her first novel Into the Blue (Interlude Press, 2016) received a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance. Her second novel, Storm Season, was published by Interlude Press in 2017. Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook
Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar & Grille by Erin Finnegan: As the one-year anniversary of his lover’s death rolls around on Christmas, Jack Volarde finds himself at their old haunt—a bar called the Casa Blanca, where a new bartender helps him open up about loss, and see brightness in a future that had grown dim.
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and a winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. Her novel Luchador was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016, and along with her 2014 debut novel, Sotto Voce, received both a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award and a PW starred review. Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram
Halfway Home by Lilah Suzanne: Avery Puckett has begun to wonder if her life has become joyless. One night, fate intervenes in the form of a scraggly dog shivering and alone in a parking lot. Avery takes him to a nearby shelter called Halfway Home where she meets bright and beautiful Grace, who is determined to save the world one stray at a time.
Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, and the Amazon bestselling Spotlight series: Broken Records, Burning Tracks and Blended Notes. Website | Twitter | Facebook
Shelved by Lynn Charles: When library clerk Karina Ness meets a new patron, lonely business owner, Wesley Lloyd, she puts her own love life on hold and begins a holiday matchmaking mission to connect Wes with her uncle Tony.
Lynn Charles’ love of writing dates to her childhood, when thoughts, dreams, frustrations, and joys poured onto the pages of journals and diaries. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and adult children where a blind dog and his guardian cat rule the roost. When she’s not writing, Lynn can be found planning a trip to New York or strolling its streets daydreaming about retirement. Her novel Black Dust (2016) was named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year award. Her other novels include Beneath the Stars (2017) and Chef’s Table (2014). Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram
Halfway Home by Lilah Suzanne
She drives to Grace’s house next, even more anxious than she was about staging Rudy’s escape. “Just be glad you don’t have to date,” she tells Rudy, scooping out a bite of drippy ice cream. “You’d be dead inside after a while of that too.” Avery holds out the ice cream lid for Rudy to lick. Can dogs eat ice cream? It’s probably fine. “See? Who doesn’t like vanilla ice cream, right? It’s like all other ice cream owes vanilla its existence. Rocky road. Cookie dough. Moose Tracks. Cookies and cream.” Rudy looks plaintively up at her, so she sets the now-empty carton down on the seat for him. “Okay, yeah. I’m stalling.”
Covering him with the blanket again, Avery cuts the engine, promising to be back quickly before the cold seeps in, then runs up Grace’s driveway before she chickens out. Grace answers with two of her dogs at her heels.
“Hi,” Avery says, clouds of steam puffing out as she speaks. “Sorry to drop by.”
“It’s okay, I’m glad you did.” Grace smiles, and Avery shivers.
“I um, had a weird, yet inspirational, talk with Santa. I mean not real Santa. I don’t think he’s real; you know what I—”
Grace laughs. “I get it, yeah.”
Avery exhales a cloudy breath. “Okay. The thing is, I’ve been settling for feeling nothing because it was safe, or I thought it was, but I don’t want to feel numb anymore. Even though my nose and fingers do actually feel numb right now.” She rubs at her nose. It’s so cold; she has to wrap this up and get back to Rudy. “I just wanted to tell you that I really, really like you a lot. Like I haven’t liked anyone as much as you… ever, actually. Yes, including the person I lived with because— because I was afraid to speak up and say how I really felt. But I’m not anymore. Grace, meeting you was fate. And I don’t even believe in fate, but I don’t know what else it could be. If you need time, then I can give you time. But this is real, and it’s worth the risk to me.” Avery turns and jogs down the steps, not giving Grace a chance to respond. She said what she had say, she did what she needed to do and she’s proud of that, whatever happens or doesn’t happen. “Merry Christmas, Grace.”
Grace calls her name, just once, soft and hesitant. Avery doesn’t turn. The timing isn’t right, and that’s okay. It will be. Avery tucks this moment away, an ember warm and steady in her chest: hope.
Author Guest Post
Finding Holiday Magic in Unexpected Places
By Lilah Suzanne
I spent most of my childhood Christmases in southern Florida, at my grandparent’s house that was nestled between the beautiful Palm Beach coast and a undeveloped swamp. We’d swim in their pool, pick oranges and grapefruit from the trees growing on their property, maybe hit the beach. You know, typical Christmas activities.
And maybe it’s that, or maybe it’s just my natural tendency to avoid tradition for tradition’s sake, but my Christmas magic still comes in odd and unexpected ways. Like a sweltering Christmas morning, or an old ornament from a cereal box that played it’s tinny little holiday tune for nearly thirty years, or a mall decked out in cheesy decor, in my hobby of collecting random and obscure Holiday songs, or eating a orange still warm from the hot December sun: All of these things say Christmas to me.
This break from tradition is on display in If The Fates Allow, not just in my story Halfway Home, where Avery Puckett finds some desperately need holiday spirit in a mall santa, a dog rescue, and the smile of a beautiful woman. This spirit of finding magic in unexpected places is also found in Killian Brewer’s story Gracious Living Magazine Says It Must Be a Live Tree where Marcus Sumpter learns that a magical Christmas has very little to do with achieving a picture-perfect southern Christmas, and everything to do with the love of people who become family. True North by Pene Henson comes with the built-in magic of Montana’s endless blue skies and snow-covered landscape, but with the struggle of finding home in a place that Shay Allen has never quite managed to fit. In Erin Finnegan’s Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar and Grille magic is imbued in the sultry Santa Ana winds, the pull of grief, and the whisper of hope for Jack Volarde. And in Lynn Charles’ Shelved, Karina Ness is determined to create her own magic, playing matchmaker for her uncle through library books while accidentally finding her own happiness along the way.
For many people, and often LGBTQ people, a traditional, mainstream holiday isn’t possible, and for some, unappealing. For Avery in Halfway Home, it had become just another day in a listless life. For me, that’s why it’s important to look beyond the usual holiday story, to give everyone a chance to find a little holiday magic in their own unique way, even if it’s in the hot and humid Florida swamps.