Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gracen Miller's Holidays

Happy Holidays, readers! What puts you in the mood for the Holidays? For me, it certainly is not the commercial rush of the season. That aggravates me! What does it for me is watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” with my children. LOL Yeah, sometimes I can still be a kid at heart. I grew up watching these shows and they’re timeless favorites I associate with the holidays. So, it’s the simple things like watching a favorite cartoon or decorating the house with my boys that puts me in the holiday spirit. What about you, what puts you in the holiday spirit?

For Madison and Phoenix, lead characters in my soon to be released book Pandora’s Box, it’s something just as simple that puts them in the holiday spirit. Below is a unique taste into their world, an idyllic moment that is rare for their tumultuous lives. This snippet cannot be found anywhere and it’s not in my book, so enjoy, and let me know what you think and you will be entered to win!


Madison gazed out the dingy window of Pancake Decadence, a pit stop located on the edge of Highway 69 to nowhere. A trucker maneuvered his rig with ease into the dirt packed wasteland of trash and winter brittle weeds to the side of the café. Deep ruts and tire tracks proclaimed the tract of land a long running make-do parking lot.

Sighing, she sipped the strong coffee as she peered over the rim at her six-year-old son, Amos, slapping the buttons on the pinball machine with exuberance. A chip red-flagged the rim of the coffee mug and a stained crack along the side indicated the mug was long past its expiration date. Madison didn’t care about either, so long as it served up coffee. At this point in her journey, she’d take a dirty I.V. of the brew straight into her veins if possible.

Gouged out spots blighted the dirty linoleum floor. Like acne pock-marking a face with such severity as to scar the flesh forever. The aged flooring needed replacing. The dated table wobbled on the uneven floor and the vinyl booth held a ragged tear in the center of the seat. Comfort hadn’t been high on her priority list in a long while, so she wiggled a butt-cheek into the tear for a unique level of seating.

But, hey, the pancakes lived up to the name of the establishment. Decadent!

Christmas morning at four A.M. and she and Amos were stuck in a dive dining on an early morning fare of pancakes. Lonely and scared, she would call it a low point in her life if she hadn’t already lost her husband and her otherwise normal life.

Strands of Christmas lights bunched along the top of the windows resembled curtain swags. They twinkled on some random cycle, none of them in sync. “Merry Christmas” was spray painted with a can of “snow” on the window to her right, along with a painted ensemble of red and green use-your-imagination-ornaments. Or at least she thought they were supposed to be ornaments. If not, Madison didn’t have a clue what they represented.

A spindly tree sat in the corner of the café near the entrance to the bathrooms. Madison felt pity for the thing. Leaning to one side, with several branches hanging low from the weight of the ornaments, it was definitely on its last leg. A light breeze would set it on its side.

Good thing, you’re not by the door, little guy, Madison contemplated with a skeptical eye.

Tacky decorations, but they lent the place a redneck kind of charm. She was southern, so she knew rednecks intimately.

Madison lifted her fork, cut out another bite of pancakes and swirled it in syrup. Closing her eyes on a moan, she savored the sweet taste and the fluffy texture hitting her tongue. Only orgasms compared to this self-indulgence!

Ha! Self-indulgence was her picking up the cell and calling Phoenix. After almost a year on the road, she’d give anything to see him. A friendly face. Someone that understood what she was going through. Not that Phoenix owed her anything, but she’d hoped he would answer her desperate call and agree to meet them for the holidays. Ridiculous really since she was a hard and fast devout atheist—or had been. Kind of hard to remain dedicated to that doctrine knowing what she now knew.

Foolish of her to expect more from Phoenix, but others in her life had already proven how naïve she was. Phoenix had a family to spend Christmas with and she and Amos weren’t part of that family. He’d helped her all he could with her supernatural pests and she had left him on her front lawn, declaring she and Amos must take this journey on their own. True still, but she’d never felt so lonely, or needful of adult conversation.

The bell above the door dingled, announcing a new customer and Madison glanced up, expecting to see the trucker.

“Nix!” she exclaimed on a shocked breath.

Phoenix Birmingham in the flesh! Wearing ratty low-slung jeans, a wrinkled black t-shirt that stretched like a second skin across his chest and his dad’s hand-me-down leather bomber. To Madison he was the most exciting creation since the invention of the internet. And her heart agreed, racing faster than the tattoo of a jackhammer as he smiled at her, a slow, wicked grin that revealed his sexy dimples. Dimples that was sure to have charmed the pants off a number of women.

A bevy of strong pleasure kicked her in the belly, snatched her breath away and yanked her along a joyride of emotions. None of which she wanted to dissect too closely.

He rounded the backside of the booth and instead of sitting opposite her he tugged her out of the seat and enveloped her in a fierce hug. Being in the man’s arms was better than an orgasm.

“I’m your gift from Amos,” he said low against her ear.

Dear God, what a loaded statement!

Bizarre how the simple things in life—like having Phoenix with her on Christmas morning—meant so much more to her than a designer label, a nice house or a fancy car. Oh, how drastically her life had changed and how meaningless it had once been.

Phoenix kissed her forehead and Madison knew this Christmas would officially go down as her best one ever!


Want to read more of Madison and Phoenix’s exploits? Well, you can in my soon to be released novel, Pandora’s Box, Book One in The Road to Hell Series, coming soon from Decadent Publishing. For a blurb, visit my website.

Wait! Don’t run off yet! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to WIN a copy of Pandora’s Box, which one winner will receive once it’s released! As an added bonus, the winner will receive a “skull tote bag” from me personally as an early holiday gift! Picture of “skull tote bag” can be viewed on my website also.


Gracen Miller

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  1. Oh, Gracen! You had me at hello! LOL Utterly fantastic story. You bet I want to read more! Can't wait for Pandora's Box to come out. I'm gonna have to read the prequel on your site for sure. I could read your descriptions forever...

  2. Christmas music puts me in the spirit of the holiday. Just having it on in the background makes everything else a bit lighter.


  3. Nice teaser! Makes me wonder what is going on!

  4. mannn now i haveee tor eadthis book it sounds awesomeeee! reaidng the prequal and i need to read more great post


  5. Great teaser, cute bag, awesome site...Good luck on the upcoming release. ;)

  6. Aww...*blushes*...Thanks, Deena!

    Leni, I love Christmas music too and you're right, it makes everything seem light, kind of freeing as if there are no worries in the world and never will be again.

    Maureen, sometimes I'm still wondering what's going on when my muse throws a monkey wrench into the storyline. LOL

    SiNn, thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you enjoy the prequel!

    R.M., thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    Good luck to all the entrants.

  7. Great hook....now I wanna read the rest!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. That was a perfectly lovely story! I know a place just like that down the road from me, but then again.. I live in the stix and it's all familiar to me! ;) Thanks for sharing!


  10. Gracen, this is beautifully done. I could practically taste the pancakes. I can't wait to read more.

    The excitement of shopping for the special people in my life always puts me in holiday mode.

  11. What a fabulous snippet, Gracen! Thanks for the intro to your characters! Seeing holiday cards arrive from friends and family puts me in a holiday mood, as does playing favorite holiday songs and reading Christmas stories :)

  12. Ohh, yummy. Can't wait for this one to come out!

  13. Loved the snippet - made me want to read more :-) Can't wait for it to be released!

    smaccall @ comcast.net

  14. Deanna...Mwhahaha...that's my best interpretation of an evil, wicked laugh. ;-)

    Sweet Vernal, I grew up in the stix and all my family still lives in the stix, so like you, I know this place well too. But these types of places always have the best, most decadent food.

    Howdy, Kathleen! I just finished "Santa" shopping for my 9 year old and I can't wait to see the glow in his eyes when he sees how awesome Santa is! =D

    flechn1, I save my holiday cards from year-to-year (yes, I'm a pack rat), but I enjoy seeing how much everyone has changed from year-to-year, especially the kids. Sadly, I don't do holiday cards because I always seem to run out of time.

    Jennifer and Sarah, I can't wait for it to be released either. Hopefully, everyone will love these two as much as I do.

    Thanks to everyone for commenting and good luck to everyone!


  15. Awwww...what a cool snippet. The book sounds awesome! I saw your emails on ParanormalMondays and wanted to stop by. Congrats on the release:)

    I'm like you at the holidays. I loved Rudolph, and The Charlie Brown cartoon, so I bought them on DVD and we only watch them during the holidays. It feels like Christmas once I get those out and watch them with the kids:)

  16. Great story, Gracen! Very atmospheric.
    I find Christmas music gets me in the mood for Christmas. And I have a few Christmas movies I watch every year that make me feel festive - White Christmas, Love Actually ...

  17. I love spending time with my Family and good friends. Also, putting money in the Red Kettles every time I see one. Even if it is only 50 cents! LOL

  18. Moonsanity, thanks so much for following me from ParanormalMonday to leave a comment! Means a lot to me.

    Vanessa, thanks for stopping by!

    Nina, thanks, I worked hard trying to drag in every last element of atmosphere I could into this scene. I love Christmas music too! Little Drummer Boy used to be my favorite song as a child, now I have too many to start listing them.

    Bebe, thanks for stopping by. I live 3 hours away from family, so I know it's the holidays when we're traveling to visit family. My kids love stuffing money, even just pennies, into the red kettles.

  19. I like the excerpt and now feel the need to eat pancakes. Mmmmmm....pancakes, yummy.

    And it's those old time shows that put a smile on my face. I watched some old Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck Christmas cartoons last week and was in 7th Heaven.

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

  20. Ah, Gracen, that is such a sweet scene. It really has me curious. Who is Phoenix? Why makes him so special? What are Madison's supernatural pests? Okay, simply put, you've hooked me.
    What puts me in the Christmas spirit? Hmmm, on this rainy grey day let me think. The lights on large communal Christmas tree. There are no lights on it yet. They were suppose to be up on December 5th. What's going on? Did a grinch steal our island Christmas?

  21. Hi! Loved the snippet and totally ready for your new release. Congrats! Holiday mood-setter? Watching all the holiday movies on TV, but the real zinger - any choir singing Handel's Messiah.

    Denise Golinowski

  22. Howdy, Joder...um, sorry about the need to eat pancakes, or not. LOL Hope that's a good thing. =D

    Thanks, Leanne, I'm glad to know I hooked ya with the teaser. Yikes, on the communal Christmas tree delay...hopefully they'll get them up soon and it'll feel like the holidays then.

    Howdy, Denise, I think my sons and I have watched at minimum 3 dozen Christmas shows on Lifetime and the Hallmark channels. We're addicted to them!


  23. Wow, you certainly like your adjectives! ;-) Thanks for the chance to win. SheilaP52@yahoo.com

  24. Those pancakes sure sound good. I will have to get this when it comes out.


  25. the book sounds great. watching the kids get excited is what puts me in the holiday mood

  26. Now I will have to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow!

    kissinoak at frontier dot com

  27. Hi Gracen! I loved how that excerpt made everything so visual around me as if I was there seeing it myself!

    I love to watch the old Christmas themed movies on Turner Classics. They have more and more closed captioned for the deaf and I recently watched A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938) so an old version of it! and want to watch again, a favorite, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) soon!

    cathiecaffey @gmail.com

  28. I read the prequel and I my heart goes out to Madison! The horrible things that her father says to her! I joined your website so I can stay up to date on all the news.


  29. A tasty morsel of your book, thank you for sharing.


  30. Sheila, I hope loving my adjectives isn't a bad thing! =)

    AndreaI & Estella...LOL I think I've made several of you hungry today with those pancakes. =D

    Jennifer, watching the kids Christmas morning IS lots of fun. I can't wait for my 9 year old to see how awesome Santa is. LOL

    Caffey, glad you enjoyed the excerpt. A Christmas Carol...what a classic!!!

    Best of luck to you all on the contest and thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read the snippet into Phoenix and Madison's life.


  31. Hey, Cindy, yes, Madison's father is nasty to her, but I hope after you read Pandora's Box, you'll understand how it makes her a stronger person. Thanks so much for joining my site. I hope to publish new Life Lessons every 2 weeks.

    Hi, Kylie, thanks so much for stopping by.

    Good luck to you both! And Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays (take your pick) to all of you!


  32. I enjoyed the post, I also hate how they commerical everything on all the holidays. Loved the excerpt. Your book really looks good.

    Happy Holidays!!

  33. Great teaser! I have to get this. Fantastic job Gracen! :)

  34. I love any story involving Pandora's box. That is such a great theme! debby236 at att dot net

  35. I love the name Phoenix Birmingham! And she calls him Nix. I just find that so cool.

  36. Hi Gracen, hoping to read your book.

    Love all things Christmas, can watch the same movie.cartoons over and over and can't wait for the music to start.

  37. Judy, before Thanksgiving we already had Christmas stuff in stores here. Drives me nuts!

    Aww...thanks, Stephanie! Glad you enjoyed the teaser. I loved writing it, but I love all things Nix and Madison.

    Thanks, Debby, I hope I do Pandora's Box proud!

    Howdy, JenB.! I love Phoenix/Nix's name too. Mostly, I just looooove Nix the character.

    Hey, Diana! To me Christmas has a magical feel to it.

    Amy S., thanks so much for dropping by!

    Good luck to you all and thanks to all of you for taking the time to read my snippet and leave comments.


  38. I really enjoyed your excerpt. The excitement of the kids usually gets me in the mood for Christmas. It's such a joy seeing the anticipation on their faces.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  39. Linda, thanks for stopping by. Christmas is about my kids more than anything. My 9 year old is counting the days down. Each morning, I hear we have "blank" number of days until Christmas. LOL

  40. Random.org picked SARAH as the winner! Congrats, Sarah, I'll send you an email today to get your snailmail.

    Thanks again to all of you who commented! I appreciate the time you took to join me.

    Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!