This week at the SFF Seven we’re doing a little winter holiday self-promo! Many of you know we had to push back the release of FIRE OF THE FROST, but it’s coming soooooon! We are on target to release on December 22. So if you are someone who celebrates Christmas, this should hit your eReader just in time to relax and enjoy some holiday downtime.
And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there’s lots of midwinter, romantic holiday goodness for you, too! Only Amanda’s story is literally Christmas. Everyone else’s is a fantasy midwinter holiday. Mine includes a magical sleigh race and elemental festive lights. It’s a story that takes place in the Bonds of Magic world, roughly after DARK WIZARD and semi-concurrent with BRIGHT FAMILIAR. It takes place at Convocation Academy and you just miiiiigght see some of the characters in GREY MAGIC.
The delay means you have just that much longer to preorder the anthology for the special preorder price, before it goes up on release day.
Here’s the official (still in progress) blurb:
A midwinter holiday fantasy romance anthology…
From Darynda Jones, a standalone novella set in a world where vampyres are hunted for sport. The only thing standing between them and total annihilation is Winter, a warrior bred to save them from extinction. Forbidden to fall in love, Winter cares only about her oaths… until she meets the devilish prince of the underworld.
Of Fate and Fire by Amanda Bouchet
The Kingmaker Chronicles meets modern-day New York City! Piers, an exiled warrior from Thalyria, finds himself in the Big Apple just before the holidays. The world and everything in it might be utterly foreign to him, but that won’t stop Piers from helping to complete a vital mission for Athena and protect Sophie, a French teacher from Connecticut who’s suddenly knee-deep in inexplicable phenomena, danger, and henchmen after an Olympian treasure that should never have ended up in her hands—or remained on Earth after the Greek gods abandoned it.
The King of Hel by Grace Draven
A novella-length expansion of a stand-alone short story in which a cursed mage-king from a frozen kingdom is obligated to marry a woman of high-ranking nobility but meets his soulmate in a lowly scribe.
Familiar Winter Magic by Jeffe Kennedy
It’s holiday time at Convocation Academy, but best friends Han and Iliana are finding it hard to celebrate. As a familiar, Iliana is facing her assignment to a life of servitude to a wizard, very soon. And Han… despite being tested by the oracle daily, he is still uncategorized. As Iliana and Han face being separated forever, they at last find the courage—or desperation—to break the rules and acknowledge their deeper feelings for each other. But it will take more than true love to save them from the laws of the Convocation…
And here’s a little snippet from my story, Familiar Winter Magic:
Once the races finished, Iliana let Han talk her into more dancing. With the excellent whiskey warming her blood, not to mention the heady glow of Han’s undivided attention, she could hardly resist. She loved him so much and he was right: this was their last Founding Festival together. Rather than try to hold him at arm’s length, in anticipation of their imminent parting, she decided to enjoy his company while she could.
Han at his most charming was impossible to refuse. Which would be a major problem when he manifested as a wizard, but she wouldn’t think about that tonight. Since it was a holiday, the thought-seekers gave everyone a break—and were celebrating themselves. The festival was a rare excuse for everyone to loosen up.
A little bit tipsy, the lights and dancing making her feel giddy, she danced with Han until she was so warm she had to shed her cloak. Among his many skills, Han was also an excellent dancer—far better than she, but he was so skilled that he made his partner look good—and they found themselves more than once in a circle of cheering spectators as he whirled her through the vigorous dances.
Then the music slowed, and she fanned herself, blowing out a breath, and headed off the dance floor. Han caught her hand. “Hey, where are you going?” Expertly he twirled her under his arm, then snugged her close, a hand on the small of her back as he led her through the dreamy rhythm.
Iliana braced one hand on Han’s chest, his heart thumping rapidly beneath her fingertips, his blue eyes lambent in the starry light. “We never dance the slow dances,” she breathed.
“A grievous lapse of judgment on my part,” he murmured, gaze traveling over her face. “You feel perfect in my arms, lovely Iliana. I want you here forever.”
She tore her gaze from his heartbreakingly beautiful face, focusing on his throat instead. That wasn’t much help, as his skin begged to be kissed and nibbled. “I don’t understand what’s changed between us, why you’re being so…”
“Seductive?” he suggested in a warm purr. “Devastatingly handsome and charming?”
Snorting, she made a face at him. “Aggressive. And annoyingly persistent.”
Hi all! If you follow my podcast or blog, you already know this, but I’m having to postpone the release of Bonds of Magic #3, GREY MAGIC. Many apologies, but it has to be done, alas. I’m predicting that the new release date will be February 15, 2022. Possibly sooner, but not later. I’m changing the release date to 2/15/22 everywhere *except* on Amazon, who will only let me push it to 30 days out. If you preordered on Amazon (thank you!!!), you’ll get a notice saying the new release date is January 19. I might be able to push it out again right away, or I might have to wait. We shall see! At any rate, thank you for your patience and understanding.
This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking destressing. We’re asking, “What’s one thing you do to keep (or reestablish) your equanimity when life is too much?”
That’s always the question, isn’t it?
It’s especially pertinent for me today because I’ve been stressing about whether I can get GREY MAGIC, book #3 in Bonds of Magic, written in time for release. See, I’ve known for a while that I wouldn’t make my original release date of December 20. Yes, the December 20 that’s nineteen days from this post. I made a deliberate choice there when Agent Sarah asked me to write more on a book she really wanted to take on submission this fall. “I’ll just postpone the release date,” I thought to myself. Then, yesterday, I was deciding what I should push the date to, as Amazon requires that we change the date at least five days ahead. Yes, that still gives me two weeks, but I wanted to get a feel for that – and if it means I also have to push the release of THE STORM PRINCESS AND THE RAVEN KING. (Reader: I do. Apologies! These things have a cascade effect…)
So, I was picking my ideal, least-amount-of-stress date when I realized: Amazon only allows us to push the date by 30 days. For those not wanting to do the math, that made the new release date January 19. At first I tried manipulating my schedule and wordcount goals, considering writing on weekends, which I normally take off to relax and refill the well, and then I realized that I would be incredibly stressed trying to do that. I ended up soliciting advice. My plan is to call Amazon and see if they’ll grant me dispensation to push both release dates out to a comfortable distance. Apparently they sometimes will, and I stand a good chance as I haven’t done this before. Wish me luck! And I’ll report back.
Fair warning: those dates I’ll be requesting are mid-February and mid-April, just to give myself plenty of room since I don’t want to have to try to change them again.
Onward to the actual topic!
Stress isn’t easy to combat, especially since it can be so insidious. Our neurological systems are built to constantly re-establish baselines, so we can be alerted to new dangers. This means we become inured to the presence of chronic stressors, in order to be aware of acute ones. In essence, we forget about the alligators in the watering hole that are always there, so we can be alert to the arrival of the tiger.
But only our conscious awareness “forgets” about the alligators. Our adrenal system is revved about those stinking alligators, punching up our nervous system every time we take a drink. For modern humans, our alligators are those constant concerns of our lives: money, health, family, deadlines, politics, etc. We think we’re not stressed about these things all the time because we’re used to it. Often it’s only when the stress relents that we become aware of its absence – with sheer, blessed relief.
For me this means being proactive. I make an effort to combat stress even when I don’t feel particularly stressed. What do I do?
1) Take deep breaths. I know this may feel like hackneyed advice, but really is the best. Studies have shown we hold our breath when reading emails or when social media notifications arrive. By reminding myself to consciously and conscientiously breathe deeply, I release and fend off stress.
2) Speaking of email and social media notifications, I silence as much as possible. All those pop-ups, pings, and badges? Turn them off! Very little needs our immediate attention. For email, I try to confine my engagement with it to once a day. Much like the paper mail. I treat it like it arrives once and I read and respond then.
3) I try to be kind to myself, doing those things that others have mentioned here. Yoga is great, not only for the energy realignment and breathing (!), but also because it makes me step away from the phone and computer for an hour and be only in my body. Being outside works for this. Long walks. Reading in the sun. Unplugging and focusing on non-monetized creative tasks.
What do you all do to destress?